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5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: April 19, 2023

sailing around the world

A small sailboat can take you big places

Small sailboats are the ticket to going cruising NOW — not when you retire, save up enough money, or find the “perfect” bluewater cruising boat. In fact, it’s the first principle in Lin and Larry Pardey’s cruising philosophy: “Go small, go simple, go now.”

Small yachts can be affordable, simple, and seaworthy . However, you won’t see many of them in today’s cruising grounds. In three years and 13,000 nautical miles of bluewater cruising, I could count the number of under 30-foot sailboats I’ve seen on one hand (all of them were skippered by people in their 20s and 30s).

Today’s anchorages are full of 40, 50, and 60-foot-plus ocean sailboats, but that’s not to say you can’t sail the world in a small sailboat. Just look at Alessandro di Benedetto who in 2010 broke the record for the smallest boat to sail around the world non-stop in his 21-foot Mini 6.5 .

So long as you don’t mind forgoing a few comforts, you can sail around the world on a small budget .

dinghy boat

What makes a good blue water sailboat

While you might not think a small sailboat is up to the task of going long distances, some of the best bluewater sailboats are under 40 feet.

However, if you’re thinking about buying a boat for offshore cruising, there are a few things to know about what makes a small boat offshore capable .

Smaller equals slower

Don’t expect to be sailing at high speeds in a pocket cruiser. Smaller displacement monohulls are always going to be slower than larger displacement monohulls (see the video below to learn why smaller boats are slower). Therefore a smaller cruiser is going to take longer on a given passage, making them more vulnerable to changes in weather.

A few feet can make a big difference over a week-long passage. On the last leg of our Pacific Ocean crossing, our 35-foot sailboat narrowly avoid a storm that our buddy boat, a 28-foot sailboat, couldn’t. Our friend was only a knot slower but it meant he had to heave to for a miserable three days.

pocket cruiser

Small but sturdy

If a pocket cruiser encounters bad weather, they will be less able to outrun or avoid it. For this reason, many of the blue water sailboats in this list are heavily built and designed to take a beating.

Yacht design has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. Today, new boats are designed to be light and fast. The small sailboats in our list are 30-plus year-old designs and were built in a time when weather forecasts were less accurate and harder to come by.

Back in the day, boat were constructed with thicker fiberglass hulls than you see in modern builds. Rigs, keels, rudders, hulls and decks – everything about these small cruising sailboats was designed to stand up to strong winds and big waves. Some of the boats in this post have skeg-hung rudders and most of them are full keel boats.

The pros and cons of pocket cruiser sailboats

Pocket cruiser sailboats present certain advantages and disadvantages.

More affordable

Their smaller size makes them affordable bluewater sailboats. You can often find great deals on pocket cruisers and sometimes you can even get them for free.

You’ll also save money on retrofits and repairs because small cruising sailboats need smaller boat parts (which cost a lot less) . For example, you can get away with smaller sails, ground tackle, winches, and lighter lines than on a bigger boat.

Moorage, haul-outs, and marine services are often billed by foot of boat length . A small sailboat makes traveling the world , far more affordable!

When something major breaks (like an engine) it will be less costly to repair or replace than it would be on a bigger boat.

how to remove rusted screw

Less time consuming

Smaller boats tend to have simpler systems which means you’ll spend less time fixing and paying to maintain those systems. For example, most small yachts don’t have showers, watermakers , hot water, and electric anchor windlasses.

On the flip side, you’ll spend more time collecting water (the low-tech way) . On a small sailboat, this means bucket baths, catching fresh water in your sails, and hand-bombing your anchor. Though less convenient, this simplicity can save you years of preparation and saving to go sailing.

Oh, and did I mention that you’ll become a complete water meiser? Conserving water aboard becomes pretty important when you have to blue-jug every drop of it from town back to your boat.

Easier to sail

Lastly, smaller boats can be physically easier to sail , just think of the difference between raising a sail on a 25-foot boat versus a 50-foot boat! You can more easily single-hand or short-hand a small sailboat. For that reason, some of the best solo blue water sailboats are quite petite.

As mentioned above small boats are slow boats and will arrive in port, sometimes days (and even weeks) behind their faster counterparts on long offshore crossings.

Consider this scenario: two boats crossed the Atlantic on a 4,000 nautical mile route. The small boat averaged four miles an hour, while the big boat averaged seven miles an hour. If both started at the same time, the small boat will have completed the crossing two weeks after the larger sailboat!

Less spacious

Living on a boat can be challenging — living on a small sailboat, even more so! Small cruising boats don’t provide much in the way of living space and creature comforts.

Not only will you have to downsize when you move onto a boat  you’ll also have to get pretty creative when it comes to boat storage.

It also makes it more difficult to accommodate crew for long periods which means there are fewer people to share work and night shifts.

If you plan on sailing with your dog , it might put a small boat right out of the question (depending on the size of your four-legged crew member).

boat galley storage ideas

Less comfortable

It’s not just the living situation that is less comfortable, the sailing can be pretty uncomfortable too! Pocket cruisers tend to be a far less comfortable ride than larger boats as they are more easily tossed about in big ocean swell.

Here are our 5 favorite small blue water sailboats for sailing around the world

When we sailed across the Pacific these were some of the best small sailboats that we saw. Their owners loved them and we hope you will too!

The boats in this list are under 30 feet. If you’re looking for something slightly larger, you might want to check out our post on the best bluewater sailboats under 40 feet .

Note: Price ranges are based on SailboatListings.com and YachtWorld.com listings for Aug. 2018

Albin Vega 27($7-22K USD)

small sailboats

The Albin Vega has earned a reputation as a bluewater cruiser through adventurous sailors like Matt Rutherford, who in 2012 completed a 309-day solo nonstop circumnavigation of the Americas via Cape Horn and the Northwest Passage (see his story in the documentary Red Dot on the Ocean ). 

  • Hull Type: Long fin keel
  • Hull Material: GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:27′ 1″ / 8.25m
  • Waterline Length:23′ 0″ / 7.01m
  • Beam:8′ 1″ / 2.46m
  • Draft:3′ 8″ / 1.12m
  • Rig Type: Masthead sloop rig
  • Displacement:5,070lb / 2,300kg
  • Designer:Per Brohall
  • Builder:Albin Marine AB (Swed.)
  • Year First Built:1965
  • Year Last Built:1979
  • Number Built:3,450

Cape Dory 28 ($10-32K USD) 

small sailboat

This small cruising sailboat is cute and classic as she is rugged and roomy. With at least one known circumnavigation and plenty of shorter bluewater voyages, the Cape Dory 28 has proven herself offshore capable.

  • Hull Type: Full Keel
  • Length Overall:28′ 09″ / 8.56m
  • Waterline Length:22′ 50″ / 6.86m
  • Beam:8’ 11” / 2.72m
  • Draft:4’ 3” / 1.32m
  • Rig Type:Masthead Sloop
  • Displacement:9,300lb / 4,218kg
  • Sail Area/Displacement Ratio:52
  • Displacement/Length Ratio:49
  • Designer: Carl Alberg
  • Builder: Cape Dory Yachts (USA)
  • Year First Built:1974
  • Year Last Built:1988
  • Number Built: 388

Dufour 29 ($7-23K)

small sailboat

As small bluewater sailboats go, the Dufour 29 is a lot of boat for your buck. We know of at least one that sailed across the Pacific last year. Designed as a cruiser racer she’s both fun to sail and adventure-ready. Like many Dufour sailboats from this era, she comes equipped with fiberglass molded wine bottle holders. Leave it to the French to think of everything!

  • Hull Type: Fin with skeg-hung rudder
  • Length Overall:29′ 4″ / 8.94m
  • Waterline Length:25′ 1″ / 7.64m
  • Beam:9′ 8″ / 2.95m
  • Draft:5′ 3″ / 1.60m
  • Displacement:7,250lb / 3,289kg
  • Designer:Michael Dufour
  • Builder:Dufour (France)
  • Year First Built:1975
  • Year Last Built:1984

Vancouver 28 ($15-34K)

most seaworthy small boat

A sensible small boat with a “go-anywhere” attitude, this pocket cruiser was designed with ocean sailors in mind. One of the best cruising sailboats under 40 feet, the Vancouver 28 is great sailing in a small package.

  • Hull Type:Full keel with transom hung rudder
  • Length Overall: 28′ 0″ / 8.53m
  • Waterline Length:22’ 11” / 6.99m
  • Beam:8’ 8” / 2.64m
  • Draft:4’ 4” / 1.32m
  • Rig Type: Cutter rig
  • Displacement:8,960lb / 4,064 kg
  • Designer: Robert B Harris
  • Builder: Pheon Yachts Ltd. /Northshore Yachts Ltd.
  • Year First Built:1986
  • Last Year Built: 2007
  • Number Built: 67

Westsail 28 ($30-35K)

small sailboat

Described in the 1975 marketing as “a hearty little cruiser”, the Westsail 28 was designed for those who were ready to embrace the cruising life. Perfect for a solo sailor or a cozy cruising couple!

  • Hull Type: Full keel with transom hung rudder
  • Hull Material:GRP (fibreglass)
  • Length Overall:28′ 3” / 8.61m
  • Waterline Length:23’ 6” / 7.16m
  • Beam:9’ 7” / 2.92m
  • Displacement:13,500lb / 6,124kg
  • Designer: Herb David
  • Builder: Westsail Corp. (USA)
  • Number Built:78

Feeling inspired? Check out the “go small” philosophy of this 21-year-old who set sail in a CS 27.

Fiona McGlynn

Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.

Saturday 1st of September 2018

Very useful list, but incomplete - as it would necessarily be, considering the number of seaworthy smaller boats that are around.

In particular, you missed/omitted the Westerly "Centaur" and its follow-on model, the "Griffon". 26 feet LOA, bilge-keelers, weighing something over 6000 pounds, usually fitted with a diesel inboard.

OK, these are British designs, and not that common in the US, but still they do exist, they're built like tanks, and it's rumored that at least one Centaur has circumnavigated.

Friday 31st of August 2018

This is a helpful list, thank you. I don't think most people would consider a 28' boat a pocket cruiser, though!

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11 Best Pocket Cruiser Sailboats to Fit a Budget

  • By Cruising World Staff
  • Updated: August 9, 2021

Looking for a trailerable pocket cruiser that offers that liveaboard feeling? This list features 11 small sailboats with cabins that have the amenities often found on larger vessels. They may not be ocean crossing vessels, but they’re certainly capable of handling big bays and open waters.

What is a pocket cruiser? It’s a small trailerable sailboat, typically under 30 feet in length, that’s ideal for cruising big lakes, bays, coastal ocean waters, and occasionally bluewater cruising. Pocket cruisers are usually more affordable, compact, and offer a level of comfort that’s comparable to bigger liveaboards.

Small cruising sailboats are appealing for many reasons, but if you’re like most of us, you want to maintain a certain level of comfort while on the water. We took a poll and these are what we found to be the best cruising sailboats under 30 feet.

Andrews 28

Open and airy below deck, the Andrews 28 doesn’t sacrifice comfort for speed. Designed by Alan Andrews, the Southern California naval architect renowned for his light, fast raceboats, this 28-footer will certainly appeal to the cruiser who also enjoys a little club racing. Sporting a total of 6 berths, a galley, head and nav area, you might forget you are on a boat small enough to be easily trailered. The retractable keel allows the Andrews 28 to be easily launched and hauled and ensures it’s as comfortable as a daysailer as it is a racer. Click here to read more about the Andrews28.

Beneteau First 20

First 20 at sunset

Small sailboat with a cabin? Check! Fun to sail? Modern design? Capable of flying a spinnaker? Check! Check! Check! The Finot-Conq-designed Beneteau First 20, which replaced the popular Beneteau first 211 nearly a decade ago now, is a sporty-but-stable pocket cruiser suitable for newcomers to the sport who are eager to learn their chops before moving up to a bigger boat or for old salts looking to downsize to a trailerable design. The boat features twin rudders, a lifting keel, and a surprisingly roomy interior with bunks for four. Click here to read more about the Beneteau First 20 .

Ranger 26

Conceived as a way to bridge the gap between a safe, comfortable, family cruiser and a competitive racer, Gary Mull’s Ranger 26 does exactly as it was designed to. Undeniably fast, (one won the 1970 IOR North American Half-Ton Cup) the boat sails as well as it looks. However speed isn’t the Ranger’s only strong-suit, with over 7 feet of cockpit there’s plenty of room for socializing after an evening of racing. The Ranger 26 sports a nice balance of freeboard and cabin height ensuring that a handsome profile wasn’t sacrificed for standing headroom. Click here to read more about the Ranger 26.

Nonsuch 30 left side

Catboats were once a common site in coastal waters, where they sailed the shallow bays as fishing or work boats. Their large single and often gaff-rigged sail provided plenty of power, and a centerboard made them well-suited for the thin waters they frequently encountered. In the late 1970s, Canadian builder Hinterhoeller introduced the Nonsuch 30, a fiberglass variation of the catboat design, with a modern Marconi sail flown on a stayless mast, and a keel instead of a centerboard. The boat’s wide beam made room below for a spacious interior, and the design caught on quickly with cruising sailors looking for a small bluewater sailboat. Click here to read more about the Nonsuch 30 .

Newport 27

Debuted in 1971 in California, the Newport 27 was an instant success on the local racing scene. For a modest 27-footer, the Newport 27 has an unusually spacious interrior with over 6 feet of standing headroom. With 4 berths, a table, nav station, head and galley the Newport 27 has all the amenities you might find in a much bigger boat, all in a compact package. While quick in light air, the drawback of the tiller steering becomes apparent with increasing breeze and weather helm often leading to shortening sail early. Click here to read more about the Newport 27.

Balboa 26

First splashed in 1969, the Balboa 26 continues to enjoy a strong following among budget-minded cruisers. Built sturdy and heavy, all of the boat’s stress points are reinforced. The spacious cockpit comfortably seats 4 and is self bailing, ensuring that sailors stay dry. While only 26 feet, the Balboa still has room for a double berth, galley with stove and freshwater pump, and an optional marine head or V-berth. The Balboa has the ability to sleep five, though the most comfortable number is two or three. Under sail, the Balboa is fast and maneuverable, but may prove a handful in heavy breeze as weather helm increases. Click here to read more about the Balboa 26.

Cape Dory 28

Cape Dory 28

While the sleek lines and the teak accents of the Cape Dory 28 may grab the eye, it is the performance of the boat that make it unique. The Cape Dory comes with all amenities that you might need available, including a V-berth, 2 settees, and a head. Safe, sound and comfortable as a cruiser it is still capable of speed. Quick in light wind and sturdy and capable in heavy air, it is off the wind where the Cape Dory 28 shines with a balanced helm and the ability to cut through chop and still tack perfectly. Click here to read more about the Cape Dory 28.

Islander Bahama 28

Islander Bahama 28

On top of being a real eye-catcher, the Islander Bahama 28, with its 5-foot-6-inch draft and 3,300 pounds of ballast, sails beautifully, tracks well, and responds quickly to the helm. Inspired by the International Offshore Rule, it is unusually wide, offering stability in breeze without sacrificing the sheer and lines that make it so attractive. Below deck, the Islander Bahama 28 comes standard with plenty of berths and storage space and a galley complete with stove, icebox and sink. Click here to read more about the Islander Bahama 28.

S2 8.6

Much like its older sibling, the S2 8.6 still holds its contemporary style, despite its 1983 introduction. Like all other S2 Yachts, the 8.6 is recognized for the quality craftsmanship that allows the boat to hold up today.The S2 8.6 is a very comfortable and easily managed coastal cruiser and club racer. It’s relatively stiff, its helm feels balanced, and it tracks well. On most points of sail, it compares favorably with other boats of similar size and type. Click here to read more about the S2 8.6.

Contessa 26

Contessa 26

When the Contessa 26 was released in 1965, it immediately proved itself to be a strong, seaworthy vessel. The Contessa has continued to prove itself throughout its lifetime, being the boat of choice for two solo circumnavigations under the age of 21. While upwind performance leaves some wanting, the boat is sturdy and can carry full sail in up to 20 knots of breeze. Suited more for single-handing, the Contessa lacks standing headroom and the accommodations are sparse. Nonetheless, the Contessa 26 performs well as a daysailer with guests aboard. Click here to read more about the Contessa 26.

Hunter 27

The Hunter 27 perfectly encompasses the pocket cruiser ideal. Even if you don’t want a big boat, you can still have big boat amenities. With the generously spacious layout, wheel steering and a walkthrough transom the Hunter feels much larger than 27 feet. Step below deck and any doubts you had that the Hunter was secretly a big boat will be gone. The amenities below are endless; a full galley including stove, microwave and cooler, head with full shower, several berths and not to mention a saloon with seating for 6. The Hunter 27 has reset the benchmark for 27-footers. Click here to read more about the Hunter 27.

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Best Small and Trailerable Sailboats

Best Small and Trailerable Sailboats

Cruising with a trailerable sailboat means that you can voyage in a small and comfy sailboat with the advantage of saving some serious costs. Having a trailerable sailboat saves you money for storage fees, boatyard haulout, and boat insurance, among others. There are two main categories of trailerable sailboats; performance-oriented boats and all-round pocket cruisers.   So, if you’re a part-time sailor but still want to experience the joys of sailing continue reading this article so as to find out which are the best small and trailerable sailboats on today’s market. Know that there are many decent trailerable sailboats that managed both offshore and coastal cruising. So, keep reading and find the one that suits you best!

Catalina 22 Sport – The Best Trailerable Sailboat

Catalina brand is one of the most constructed sailboats in the US and has manufactured a great deal of capable and robust sailboats. The Catalina 22 Sport is one of the most preferred pocket and race cruisers since 2004. The model pioneers for the one-piece hull liner that has become standard in most high volume small boats. Furthermore, it has enough trim along with a well-proportioned rig and a hand-laid fiberglass hull construction. Other great features include a retractable lead keel, a roomy cabin, a spacious cockpit, and a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib. You can get a used Catalina 22 for as low as $5,000 and a brand spanking new one for around $40,000.

Catalina 22 Sport - The Best Trailerable Sailboat

>>Also Read: Beneteau vs. Catalina: Which Is a Better Sailboat?

West Wight Potter 15

The West Wight Potter 15 is one of the best small trailerable and seaworthy 15-foot sailboats of all time. It’s easy to handle and great for both coastal and offshore cruising. She has an aluminum mast and tiller, a small cabin that comfortably sleeps a couple and also we can’t miss referring to her elegant design. Furthermore, it can be easily stored, it’s relatively cheap to buy and can be purchased both as a new or used boat, as many sailors prefer it for stepping up from a dinghy to a pocket cruiser.

West Wight Potter 15 on a Trailer

>>Also Read: Best Pocket Cruisers Under 20 Feet

This small trailerable boat features a modern design and can be a top choice for many sailors, both for beginners or even for experienced ones. She surprisingly manages well in different weather conditions and she’s also relatively easy to handle. As a result, she has earned by right the title of a truly seaworthy small cruising vessel. Moreover, her robust design from the masthead to keel design is proven to be highly durable and comes with a mainsail and 110% genoa. A great feature of this model is the comfy and interior layout that offers a great amount of space for her size.

And that’s why the Hunter 27 is a great liveable sailboat having enough storage space, 6ft of standing headroom, berths, as well as plenty of counter space and seatings. Lastly, as a true trailer sailor, she has a shoal draft of under 4ft and a displacement of less than 8,000lbs. You can find her in today’s market as a used or brand-new model with a price ranging from $20,000 to $45,000.

Hunter 27 Sailboat Trailer

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 100k


The BayRaider from UK’s Swallow boats is a somehow newcomer to the small trailerable boat market in the US. She features a large and open cockpit, is ketch-rigged, and has a gunter-style mainmast. As for the topmast and mizzen, they’re both carbon-fiber; you can also apply this to the mainmast. This model can be sailed with a dry hull in lighter weather conditions or if you want to maximize its stability you can do so by removing the 300lbs of water ballast. The water ballast offers great performance in light to medium winds and makes the boat suitable for different sailing or weather conditions and levels of experience. Lastly, as she has the centerboard and hinged rudder raised she can be maneuvered even in the thinnest water. She has a self-tacking rig and is easy to trailer; all these features make her a great choice for novices.

bayraider Trailerable sailboat

>>Also Read: Most Popular Sailboats

Contessa 26

The Contessa 26 is an all-time-classic and small trailerable sailboat. Even if this vessel is quite small she has proven her seaworthiness and is still preferred as an ideal pocket cruiser. She has a roomy cabin and comfortable cockpit, so there’s no need to worry about below deck space. As for the rigging, it’s quite easy to handle and is rigged as a masthead sloop. Also, her construction comprises of a deep keel and hull-mounted rudder; and that’s why she was also used as a racer. The main downside is her narrow beam which contributes to heeling although she stiffens up quickly and becomes easy to sail. In any case, there are many who admit that she’s one of the most reliable sailboats in the mid-size category.

The Hunter 22 is a great daysailer and features an open-transom cockpit and sloop rig, making her the ideal choice for friends and family outings. Moreover, the considerable amount of below-deck space has twin bunks, a roomy cabin, and a portable toilet. Rigging also includes an asymmetric spinnaker and a mainsheet traveler in case you’re keen on racing. Her construction is made out of laminated fiberglass hull and deck, molded-in nonskid, and a hydraulic lifting centerboard. Last but not least, she’s fast, stable, responsive, and is, therefore, an ideal starter-boat for novices.

Hunter 22 Small Sailboat on a Trailer

Islander 24

The 24-foot Islander is a classic choice in the small trailerable sailboat market. This fiberglass model features a sturdy design and has proven her seaworthiness for coastal and family-day cruising. This model was first built in 1961 but is still available on the used market. She has a masthead sloop rig, simple overall rigging, and is appropriate for single-handing. As for below-deck space, she has a spacious cabin for two with a V-berth, and space for a head. Last but not least, many sailors admit that she’s a lot more capable than many of the later model boats in this size range.

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

Macgregor 25

This trailerable cruising sloop is a safe, easy-handling, and robust sailboat for 2 persons; perfectly suitable for coastal cruising. The boat has a spacious cabin and great safety features like foam flotation as well as the ability to self-right. Its innovative design features a retracting keel, pop-up rudder, and an easy mast-stepping system that enhances its cruising performance. Moreover, it has a large foredeck and cockpit and its lifelines and shrouds are equipped with handholds. You can easily find a Macgregor 25 on the used market with just $9,500.

macgregor 25 sailboat

>>Also Read: Best Small Sailboats To Sail Around The World

Cape Dory 28

The Cape Dory 28 is a popular trailerable sailboat known for its great performance both offshore and inland. Even though it has a small size it offers comfortable living spaces below the deck. In addition, she has proven to be more capable than other larger sailboats. It’s designed with a well-balanced deck arrangement along with a full-length keel with an attached rudder, a low freeboard, and a well-proportioned traditional trunk cabin. These sailboats were originally rigged as sloops with self-tending and club-footed jibs. This sail plan is really great for stiff weather conditions. Lastly, it can be easily hauled-out and transported regardless of its 28ft size. Ideal for salt-water cruising and for tighter coastal waters you can find a used model for $12,900.

>>Also Read: How Much Do Sailboats Weigh?

The Newport 27 is an all-time-classic that was first built in 1971 and is still considered a common choice for small sailboats amongst sailors. Although it has a small size it doesn’t lack interior space. The standing headroom is just over 6ft, there’s a V-berth, a head, and a hanging locker forward of the bulkhead. Also, settees measure 6ft in length and extend to either side of the saloon. Some variations include a fixed dinette with raised seating fore and aft, a starboard quarter berth, and an aft-placed head. You can find them on the used market from $10,000 to $18,000, depending on their condition and any possible upgrades. Even though it’s not a really robust offshore cruiser, the Newport 27 is still a capable trailerable sailboat and if upgraded and equipped accordingly it can definitely offer decent coastal cruising to a singlehander or a couple.

>>Also Read: What Are The Best Beginner Sailboats?

Trailerable sailboats are a great choice for beginner sailors as well as for couple and family outings. Keep in mind that the aforementioned boats are not the only options on today’s market. I recommend these boats because they’re easy to handle, small but roomy, easy to trailer, and have an overall robust design. Generally, a trailer sailor will save you costs for purchasing but also for marina fees. Keep in mind that many sailors choose to sail overseas with a trailerable sailboat, so there are suitable models for a long-passage voyage. Lastly, small sailboats can offer different kinds of sailing adventures; weekend cruising, coastal cruising, island hopping, and sometimes an offshore voyage. I hope that you enjoyed reading this article and that it will help you out in order to pick the right trailerable sailboat for your needs.


Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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25 of the best small sailing boat designs

Nic Compton

  • Nic Compton
  • August 10, 2022

Nic Compton looks at the 25 yachts under 40ft which have had the biggest impact on UK sailing

25 of the best small sailing boat designs

There’s nothing like a list of best small sailing boat designs to get the blood pumping.

Everyone has their favourites, and everyone has their pet hates.

This is my list of the 25 best small sailing boat designs, honed down from the list of 55 yachts I started with.

I’ve tried to be objective and have included several boats I don’t particularly like but which have undeniably had an impact on sailing in the UK – and yes, it would be quite a different list if I was writing about another country.

If your favourite isn’t on the best small sailing boat designs list, then send an email to [email protected] to argue the case for your best-loved boat.

Ready? Take a deep breath…

A green hull Centaur yacht, named as one of the 25 best small sailing boat designs

Credit: Bob Aylott

Laurent Giles is best known for designing wholesome wooden cruising boats such as the Vertue and Wanderer III , yet his most successful design was the 26ft Centaur he designed for Westerly, of which a remarkable 2,444 were built between 1969 and 1980.

It might not be the prettiest boat on the water, but it sure packs a lot of accommodation.

The Westerly Centaur was one of the first production boats to be tank tested, so it sails surprisingly well too. Jack L Giles knew what he was doing.

Colin Archer

The Colin Archer - one of the 25 best small sailing boat designs

Credit: Nic Compton

Only 32 Colin Archer lifeboats were built during their designer’s lifetime, starting with Colin Archer in 1893 and finishing with Johan Bruusgaard in 1924.

Yet their reputation for safety spawned hundreds of copycat designs, the most famous of which was Sir Robin Knox-Johnston ’s Suhaili , which he sailed around the world singlehanded in 1968-9.

The term Colin Archer has become so generic it is often used to describe any double-ender – so beware!

Contessa 32

Assents performance in the 1979 Fastnet Race earns the Contessa 32 at place on the 25 best small sailing boats list. Credit: Nic Compton

Assent ‘s performance in the 1979 Fastnet Race makes the Contessa 32 a worth entry in the 25 best small sailing boat designs list. Credit: Nic Compton

Designed by David Sadler as a bigger alternative to the popular Contessa 26, the Contessa 32 was built by Jeremy Rogers in Lymington from 1970.

The yacht’s credentials were established when Assent , the Contessa 32 owned by Willy Kerr and skippered by his son Alan, became the only yacht in her class to complete the deadly 1979 Fastnet Race .

When UK production ceased in 1983, more than 700 had been built, and another 20 have been built since 1996.

Cornish Crabber 24

A Cornish crabber with a blue hull and white sails

It seemed a daft idea to build a gaff-rigged boat in 1974, just when everyone else had embraced the ‘modern’ Bermudan rig.

Yet the first Cornish Crabber 24, designed by Roger Dongray, tapped into a feeling that would grow and grow and eventually become a movement.

The 24 was followed in 1979 by the even more successful Shrimper 19 – now ubiquitous in almost every harbour in England – and the rest is history.

Drascombe Lugger

A Drascombe lugger with orange sails

Credit: David Harding

There are faster, lighter and more comfortable boats than a Drascombe Lugger.

And yet, 57 years after John Watkinson designed the first ‘lugger’ (soon changed to gunter rig), more than 2,000 have been built and the design is still going strong.

More than any other boat, the Drascombe Lugger opened up dinghy cruising, exemplified by Ken Duxbury’s Greek voyages in the 1970s and Webb Chiles’s near-circumnavigation on Chidiock Tichbourne I and II .

An Eventide lunch with white sails and a blue hull sailing offshore

The 26ft Eventide. Credit: David Harding

It’s been described as the Morris Minor of the boating world – except that the majority of the 1,000 Eventides built were lovingly assembled by their owners, not on a production line.

After you’d tested your skills building the Mirror dinghy, you could progress to building a yacht.

And at 24ft long, the Eventide packed a surprising amount of living space.

It was Maurice Griffiths’ most successful design and helped bring yachting to a wider audience.

A Fisher 30 yacht with blue hull and red sails

You either love ’em or you hate ’em – motorsailers, that is.

The Fisher 30 was brought into production in 1971 and was one of the first out-and-out motorsailers.

With its long keel , heavy displacement and high bulwarks, it was intended to evoke the spirit of North Sea fishing boats.

It might not sail brilliantly but it provided an exceptional level of comfort for its size and it would look after you when things turned nasty.

Significantly, it was also fitted with a large engine.

A Folkboat with white sails and blue hull

Credit: Rupert Holmes

It should have been a disaster.

In 1941, when the Scandinavian Sailing Federation couldn’t choose a winner for their competition to design an affordable sailing boat, they gave six designs to naval architect Tord Sundén and asked him to combine the best features from each.

The result was a sweet-lined 25ft sloop which was very seaworthy and fast.

The design has been built in GRP since the 1970s and now numbers more than 4,000, with fleets all over the world.

A Freedom 40 yacht with a blue hull and two masts carrying white sails

Credit: Kevin Barber

There’s something disconcerting about a boat with two unstayed masts and no foresails, and certainly the Freedom range has its detractors.

Yet as Garry Hoyt proved, first with the Freedom 40, designed in collaboration with Halsey Herreshoff, and then the Freedom 33 , designed with Jay Paris, the boats are simple to sail (none of those clattering jib sheets every time you tack) and surprisingly fast – at least off the wind .

Other ‘cat ketch’ designs followed but the Freedoms developed their own cult following.

Hillyard 12-tonner

A classic sailing boat with a white hull and white sails

The old joke about Hillyards is that you won’t drown on one but you might starve to death getting there.

And yet this religious boatbuilder from Littlehampton built up to 800 yachts which travelled around the world – you can find them cruising far-flung destinations.

Sizes ranged from 2.5 to 20 tons, though the 9- and 12-ton are best for long cruises.

The yacht Jester with a junk rig and yellow hull at the start of the OSTAR

The innovations on Jester means she is one of the best small sailing boat designs in the last 100 years. Credit: Ewen Southby-Tailyour

Blondie Hasler was one of the great sailing innovators and Jester was his testing ground.

She was enclosed, carvel planked and had an unstayed junk rig.

Steering was via a windvane system Hasler created.

Hasler came second in the first OSTAR , proving small boats can achieve great things.

A yacht with a white hull and blue and white sails

Moody kicked off the era of comfort-oriented boats with its very first design.

The Moody 33, designed by Angus Primrose, had a wide beam and high topside to produce a voluminous hull .

The centre cockpit allowed for an aft cabin, resulting in a 33-footer with two sleeping cabins – an almost unheard of concept in 1973 –full-beam heads and spacious galley.

What’s more, her performance under sail was more than adequate for cruising.

Finally, here was a yacht that all the family could enjoy.

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Nicholson 32

A Nicholson 32 with a blue hull. Its solid seakeeping qualities means it is one of the best small boat sailing designs produced

Credit: Genevieve Leaper

Charles Nicholson was a giant of the wooden boat era but one of his last designs – created with his son Peter – was a pioneering fibreglass boat that would become an enduring classic.

With its long keel and heavy displacement, the Nicholson 32 is in many ways a wooden boat built in fibreglass – and indeed the design was based on Nicholson’s South Coast One Design.

From 1966 to 1977, the ‘Nic 32’ went through 11 variations.

A yacht with two masts sailing

Credit: Hallberg-Rassy

In the beginning there was… the Rasmus 35. This was the first yacht built by the company that would become Hallberg-Rassy and which would eventually build more than 9,000 boats.

The Rasmus 35, designed by Olle Enderlein, was a conservative design, featuring a centre cockpit, long keel and well-appointed accommodation.

Some 760 boats were built between 1967 and 1978.

Two classic wooden yachts with white sails sailing side by side

Credit: Larry & Lin Pardey

Lyle Hess was ahead of his time when he designed Renegade in 1949.

Despite winning the Newport to Ensenada race, the 25ft wooden cutter went largely unnoticed.

Hess had to build bridges for 15 years before Larry Pardey asked him to design the 24ft Seraffyn , closely based on Renegade ’s lines but with a Bermudan rig.

Pardey’s subsequent voyages around the world cemented Hess’s reputation and success of the Renegade design.

A Rustler 36 yacht being sailed off the coast of Falmouth

Would the Rustler 36 make it on your best small sailing boat list? Credit: Rustler Yachts

Six out of 18 entries for the 2018 Golden Globe Race (GGR) were Rustler 36s, with the top three places all going to Rustler 36 skippers.

It was a fantastic endorsement for a long-keel yacht designed by Holman & Pye 40 years before.

Expect to see more Rustler 36s in the 2022 edition of the GGR!

An S&S 34 yacht sailing offshore with white sails

It was Ted Heath who first brought the S&S 34 to prominence with his boat Morning Cloud .

In 1969 the yacht won the Sydney to Hobart Race, despite being one of the smallest boats in the race.

Other epic S&S 34 voyages include the first ever single-handed double circumnavigation by Jon Sanders in 1981

A yacht with a red, white and blue spinnaker sailing into the distance

Credit: Colin Work

The Contessa 32 might seem an impossible boat to improve upon, but that’s what her designer David Sadler attempted to do in 1979 with the launch of the Sadler 32 .

That was followed two years later by the Sadler 29 , a tidy little boat that managed to pack in six berths in a comfortable open-plan interior.

The boat was billed as ‘unsinkable’, with a double-skinned hull separated by closed cell foam buoyancy.

What’s more, it was fast, notching up to 12 knots.

The Sigma 33 yacht - named as one of the 25 best small sailing boat designs

Credit: Dick Durham/Yachting Monthly

Another modern take on the Contessa theme was the Sigma 33, designed by David Thomas in 1979.

A modern underwater body combined with greater beam and higher freeboard produced a faster boat with greater accommodation.

And, like the Contessa, the Sigma 33 earned its stripes at the 1979 Fastnet, when two of the boats survived to tell the tale.

A lively one-design fleet soon developed on the Solent which is still active to this day.

A replica of Joshua Slocum's Spray. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

A replica of Joshua Slocum’s Spray . Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

The boat Joshua Slocum used for his first singlehanded circumnavigation of the world wasn’t intended to sail much further than the Chesapeake Bay.

The 37ft Spray was a rotten old oyster sloop which a friend gave him and which he had to spend 13 months fixing up.

Yet this boxy little tub, with its over-optimistic clipper bow, not only took Slocum safely around the world but has spawned dozens of modern copies that have undertaken long ocean passages.

James Wharram drew many pioneering designs during his lifetime, which is why Tangaroa, which opened up cruising to many, is on the 25 best sailing boat designs list. Credit: James Wharram Designs

Credit: James Wharram Designs

What are boats for if not for dreaming? And James Wharram had big dreams.

First he sailed across the Atlantic on the 23ft 6in catamaran Tangaroa .

He then built the 40ft Rongo on the beach in Trinidad (with a little help from French legend Bernard Moitessier) and sailed back to the UK.

Then he drew the 34ft Tangaroa (based on Rongo ) for others to follow in his wake and sold 500 plans in 10 years.

A Twister yacht with a white hull and white sails

Credit: Graham Snook/Yachting Monthly

The Twister was designed in a hurry.

Kim Holman wanted a boat at short notice for the 1963 season and, having had some success with his Stella design (based on the Folkboat), he rushed out a ‘knockabout cruising boat for the summer with some racing for fun’.

The result was a Bermudan sloop that proved nigh on unbeatable on the East Anglian circuit.

It proved to be Holman’s most popular design with more than 200 built.

A black and white photos of a wooden yacht

Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Laurent Giles’s design No15 was drawn in 1935 for a Guernsey solicitor who wanted ‘a boat that would spin on a sixpence and I could sail single-handed ’.

What the young Jack Giles gave him was a pretty transom-sterned cutter, with a nicely raked stem.

Despite being moderate in every way, the boat proved extremely able and was soon racking up long distances, including Humphrey Barton’s famous transatlantic crossing on Vertue XXXV in 1950.

Wanderer II and III

Wanderer 3 yacht sailing with red brown sails

Credit: Thies Matzen

Eric and Susan Hiscock couldn’t afford a Vertue, so Laurent Giles designed a smaller, 21ft version for them which they named Wanderer II .

They were back a few years later, this time wanting a bigger version: the 30ft Wanderer III .

It was this boat they sailed around the world between 1952-55, writing articles and sailing books along the way.

In doing so, they introduced a whole generation of amateur sailors to the possibilities of long-distance cruising.

Westerly 22

A Westerly 22 yacht with a white hull and a white sail

The origins of Westerly Marine were incredibly modest.

Commander Denys Rayner started building plywood dinghies in the 1950s which morphed into a 22ft pocket cruiser called the Westcoaster.

Realising the potential of fibreglass, in 1963 he adapted the design to create the Westerly 22, an affordable cruising boat with bilge keels and a reverse sheer coachroof.

Some 332 boats were built to the design before it was relaunched as the Nomad (267 built).

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12 Perfect Small Sailboats

Jonathan Holmes 5.0 Rated 5.0 out of 5 5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 40 reviews)

Last updated on December 31st, 2023

Easy to rig, simple to toe, compact, manageable, maintainable, and affordable, all the perfect small sailboats have one thing in common: they always provide an adventurous tour in the sea.

So, either you are looking for something light on the pocket or just an adventure enthusiast wanting some safe daytime ride, the perfect small sailboats are the sole good means to fulfill your call.

After all, honestly, everybody does not need large 30 ft sailboats for cruising. However, large boats offer a lot of features like bunks, refrigeration , entertainment, and electronics. But are these features necessary for just boating? Well, I guess not.

When cruising, you only require a boat, a sail, a rudder, and a mast. Thus, nothing can offer you the ultimate adventures of coastal cruising better than small sailboats. Small sailboats not only provide you a breezy feel in the water but also offer you the opportunity to sense every change in trim instantaneously.

Table of Contents

12Best Small Sailboats

The market has a wide variety of small sailboats that measure less than 20 ft in size. Moreover, they are quite hit products as they offer great fun in the water.

With this guide, you may equip yourself with all the necessary information about the top 12 small sailboats. My top picks are just perfect as they’re simple to sail, easy to rig, and time-tested. Thus, if you were looking for a listing of the perfect small sailboats, you’re certainly on the right post.

Keep scrolling to read on for the best small sailboat picks.

Hunter 22 is a clever boat for a very fair price. It retains the hull of its predecessor- Hunter 216, featuring an open transom and a large cockpit. However, it is made of fiberglass with balsa-cored topsides and a solid bottom section.

Furthermore, the deck is a bit changed, having a 40 sq. ft. larger rig. Similar to Hunter 216, it, too, features a hydraulic ballast keel. The Hunter 22 is primarily designed to offer a thin line between “go-fast mini-sport boat” and “fun family daysailer and weekender”.

You can select between either half of them according to your requirements.

The cruising package features a simple electrical system, a portable toilet, and a V-berth in the small cuddy cabin. Whereas, the performance package offers an asymmetric spinnaker, a retractable bowsprit, mid-cockpit traveler, hiking grips, and straps in the cockpit.

  • Hunter 22 is a daysailer.
  • It offers a portable toilet.
  • The manufacturers offer an optional electrical system with Hunter 22.
  • The boat features a large cockpit and open transom.
  • It offers a cuddy cabin and twin bunks.
  • It features a hydraulic lifting centerboard and laminated fiberglass deck and hull.
  • Comfortable
  • Fair priced
  • Easy for trailing
  • Faster than most of the other boats available in the market
  • Versatile and family-friendly
  • Might need some replacement parts

Catalina 22 Sport

The retractable keel and basic amenities allow the Catalina 22 Sport to be trailered easily. Basically, the Catalina 22 Sport is an updated design of its predecessor Catalina 22.

The large cockpit is enough to seat a crowd. It offers a fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib, a cabin that provides bedding for four with a forward hatch for ventilation, and a retractable lead keel.

In essence, the Catalina 22 Sport is more of a family-friendly racer. Also, it offers an alternative to choosing an older boat.

Besides, the Catalina 22 Sport offers the value and quality Catalina has come to expect since 1970. It is simple to rig and an excellent sail to step up from dinghy sailing to budget cruising.

  • Catalina 22 Sport is a daysailer.
  • It offers an adjustable outboard motor bracket.
  • The boat features a comfortable cockpit with contoured coamings.
  • It has an anodized aluminum mast and boom.
  • It offers low stretch halyards and internal halyards.
  • Catalina 22 offers a complete standing and running rigging.
  • Many interior features, including Fiberglass Hull Liner, molded Headliner, and Low Glare Texture.
  • Easy for trailing with its swing keel
  • Family-friendly
  • Simple to rig without a complicated setup
  • Fast in speed
  • Stability and reliability
  • Features spacious cabin
  • If you choose some old models, you will need some replacement parts.
  • Not much trendy considering the interior and upholstery

Hobie Cat 16

The legendary Hobie Cat 16 has revolutionized boating . Firstly, it belongs to a proud watersports lineage, which within a few years of the foundation was loved by thousands.

Secondly, The Hobie Cat 16 is either used as a daysailer or a racer. The double banana-shaped hulls easily cut through the water, and the boat gets going fast even in light winds, as the aluminum alloy frame and two sails catch wind considerably.

Thirdly, there would certainly be no complete roundup of fun, trailerable, and small sailboats without any mention of the venerable Hobie Cat 16. The large trampoline provides a spacious platform to move about. Moreover, it offers many optional features, including a beach dolly, trailer, douse kit, a spinnaker, and a main and a jib.

In essence, it is a classic boat; enthusiasts and collectors covet it alike. Undoubtedly, it has the pedigree to prove that it is the red Ferrari in the world of cruising.

  • The mast is 26 ft 6 inches tall and weighs about 320 pounds.
  • The boat is 16 ft 7 inches in length and 7 ft 11 inches in width.
  • Two color options are available.
  • The dual-trapeze rig offers you harness its sheer power.
  • The asymmetrical fiberglass hulls offer lift
  • Low maintenance sailboat
  • Reasonably priced
  • Perfect for a Small Crew
  • Easy to trailer
  • Simple to rig
  • Sailing may be hard when you’re alone.

Norseboat 21.5

In essence, the Norseboat 21.5 offers everything an expensive trailer-sailer does. It features a sensible centerboard arrangement, contemporary, good fit and finish, high-quality construction, and sea-kindly underbody.

The value of Norseboat 21.5 lies in its charm. You will easily fall under its spell if you are into the idea of a solid and easy-to-sail boat. The price tag looks much higher for a small 21 ft boat. However, the hype of Norseboat 21.5 tells you that it’s worth it.

Moreover, the NorseBoat 21.5 offers several configurations: one with a small cockpit and cabin that has a double berth for two adults and an optional berth for children, and another with an open cockpit and smaller doghouse.

Each of them comes with a ballasted stub keel and centerboard and carries the brand’s exclusive carbon fiber gaff-rigged mast. Also, the lightweight design of the Norseboat 21.5 offers easy rowing and a simple trailer.

  • Norseboat 21.5 offers a lightweight design.
  • It offers two different configuration options.
  • Norseboat 21.5 has rowing stations.
  • It features an electric outboard.
  • The hull and deck are of fiberglass with a wood core.
  • Comfortable and versatile
  • Expensive compared to the other sailboats on the list

Barney Lehman and W.D. Schock designed the Lido 14. It is an American sailing dinghy that was built in 1958 for the very first time.

In essence, the Lido 14 is a classic sailboat that proves to be a perfect pick to suit small boats, especially for the owners who are still learning the ropes of boating.

The Lido 14 is just perfect for shorthanded racing, single-handed sailing, and solo sailing. It offers seating arrangements for about six people at most.

In the first year of its launch, two hundred Lido 14 boats were ordered. And, around 6300 Lido 14s had been built for 40 years. Today, a new Lido 14 boat is not available in the market; however, you will not regret ever getting a functional used boat.

Thus, the Lido 14 makes your investment worth it and serves you well throughout the journey.

  • It offers a retractable centerboard raised with stainless steel straps.
  • The hull features a near-vertical transom, a spooned plumb stem, and a transom-hung rudder controlled by a tiller.
  • It has a fractional sloop rig with a loose-footed mainsail and anodized aluminum spars.
  • Non-intimidating
  • Has the car top capability
  • Easy in handling
  • New models not available

RS Sailing is primarily known for its line of racing dinghies. It built the 16-ft, 4-in sized Venture, which is such a perfect training and cruising dinghy.

The Venture offers a large, self-draining cockpit that can accommodate a group of friends or a family. Whether you are just messing about with your family or friends, club sailing, or just up for casual racing, RS Venture delivers the best with all its features. It is among the most versatile and nimble dinghies for sailing the masses.

In addition, the RS Venture can carry up to eight people in its self-draining cockpit. The excellent performance makes it adventurous; the multiple equipment options allow several boat configurations.

Moreover, the RS Venture is the winner of multiple awards. The excellent stability makes the boat ideal on coastal water, offering an advantage to those learning the sport.

More importantly, The RS Venture has the potential to carry more people in it than its dinghy rivals.

  • The RS Venture offers a spacious platform.
  • It features a rear back storage.
  • The boat also offers reverse transmission.
  • It has an open cockpit with high buoyancy.
  • The exterior is composed of plastic and dual carbide.
  • Can be car toped
  • Versatile and stable
  • Simple to handle
  • Good looking
  • A bit expensive

Super Snark

The Super Snark is a simple, lightweight, lateen-rigged daysailer, marketed as the “Super Sea Snark.” It is fun sailing, easy to learn, unsinkable, and simple to set up, and transport. Most of the people who get it find it satisfying to their sailing requirements.

Moreover, Super Snark is highly portable and storable. It can easily load onto your vehicle due to its construction and light-weight. In addition, the roof racks with slide-out loading bars make moving much easier.

Termed as unsinkable, the Super Snark is built with EPS foam, with the external hull and deck, which is vacuum-formed to the deep with ABS. polymers. The Super Snark weighs approximately 50 lbs having a capacity load of 310 lbs. It can carry two people at once.

  • It has the capacity for two people.
  • The internal hull leaves no void as it is filled with EPS foam, making the boat unsinkable.
  • Mast, spar, and boom are of aluminum.
  • It is made of recycled plastic.
  • It weighs approximately 50 lbs
  • Lightweight
  • Car top-able
  • Recyclable construction material
  • Easy to learn
  • Simple to setup
  • Not family-friendly

The Laser is one of the most popular single-handed racing sailboats available in the market. With its simple rigging and simple design, Laser started single-handed racing 50 years ago when it came out. Interestingly, with over two lacs made, it is the most popular race boat in the world.

Everyone enjoys the Laser, from club racers to Olympians. It is a simple vessel to own and rig, which rewards practice and good sailing techniques. The Laser is built with updated foils and sail controls.

Moreover, a three rigs system allows the sailors to enjoy boating. It offers a seating capacity for two people. This boat is a fiberglass lightweight model easy for capsize and recovery.

  • It has the capacity for two people seating.
  • Includes the upgraded Vang, Cunningham, and Outhaul controls
  • The boat features heavy fiberglass hull construction with aluminum spars.
  • It has a small rudder with a lower boom.
  • Worldwide popular and recognized racer
  • Car top capability
  • Stable and easy to handle
  • A bit hard to sail

If you are looking for a good looking sailboat with excellent performance, the Paine 14 is here for you. It features a contemporary fin keel and spade rudder, which makes it more agile and faster.

In essence, Paine 14 is an old-time appeal with its varnished gunnels and transoms. However, it offers all the modern features every updated boat has. You can rig this boat with a gaff or a Marconi rig and can trailer it behind a vehicle.

In fact, Paine 14 can sail under mainsail alone due to the large flotation compartments fore and aft. The rig is simple, with an unstayed carbon-fiber mast and a mainsail bent onto its spars.

Overall, the Paine 14 feels like a favorite classic daysailer when you sit in it. The bronze hardware, the slatted-wood cockpit sole, and the varnished trim; all of these are elegantly designed. The cockpit ergonomics are seamless, and the sail controls fall perfectly to hand.

  • It features a modern fin keel and spade rudder.
  • The boat is built in seamless epoxy cold-molded wood construction.
  • It has parallelly fitted fiberglass battens to the luff, which extend from the leech to the foot of the sail.
  • Easy for trailing with its fin keel
  • Good prevention of slippage
  • Features spacious platform
  • Not much trendy in looks


The FarEast 18 is a low maintenance 19-ft vessel that offers high speed cruising in the sea.

Equipped with an open deck, the Far East 18 offers excellent performance. It offers great safety and stability due to its design. The hull has a beautiful shape that can be easily handled.

The lifting keel and the removable rig makes it easy to transport by a trailer. It takes a square-top fixed mainsail and an asymmetrical spinnaker, which is a driving force for buoy racing. The Far East 18 can compete with six crew but also offers bedding for three people when you are staying out overnight.

Moreover, this vessel features an updated bulb keel with carbon structure, vacuum-infused foils, and fiberglass hull. Best of all, a single person can easily rig and launch FarEast 18. Moreover, you can trailer this boat easily with a displacement below 1500 pounds.

All in all, Far East 18 is an excellent little sailboat available in the market.

  • Small cabin instead of a reduced deck
  • It features an updated bulb keel.
  • The boat features a spacious cockpit.
  • It has a lightweight structure.
  • It is constructed with a vacuum infused polyester sandwich.
  • Not too brutal on the pocket
  • Comfortable and low maintenance
  • Modest Price
  • Does not perform well in strong wind

The Sage 17 was designed in 2009 by Jerry Montgomery. It is a small, stable, go-anywhere vessel, featuring a transom with a balsa core, a carbon fiber deck, and a cabin roof.

The Sage 17 is a 1300 pound vessel. It comes with a loose-footed main and a working jib that sheets inside the lifelines. There is a kick-up rudder, a 120-lb centerboard, and a 400-pound lead keel that will not strand while cruising through shallow water.

In addition, this boat is simple enough for beginners and sophisticated enough for experienced sailors. It is manufactured to handle your adventures with safety. It comes with a non-skid covering on the horizontal surfaces, a bow pulpit, transom-mounted boarding ladder, and a self-draining cockpit.

Moreover, this model is hand-built with vinyl ester resin, fiberglass, and carbon fiber in a lapstrake style to offer you enhanced strength. The cabin and deck are made of a balsa core and carbon fiber.

The Sage 17 sails fast in light air and provides unruffled travel as the wind blows more strongly. You will definitely enjoy hindrance free comfort in the airy open cabin. And, you can get customized cabin cushions that are available in different colors.

  • Jib downhaul lead for the cockpit
  • Cabin-top mounted winches and jib tracks
  • Internal halyards
  • Single reef main and working jib, with running rigging
  • Complete mast and stainless-steel standing rigging
  • Fiberglass and vinyl ester lapstrake hull with a carbon fiber
  • Carbon fiber and vinyl ester deck with a balsa core
  • A variety of options available to choose from
  • Simple enough for beginners
  • Safe and durable
  • Quite reasonably priced, considering all the features
  • Might require some replacement gears

Montgomery 17

The Montgomery 17 was designed for Montgomery Boats by Jerry Montgomery in conjunction with Lyle C. Hess. It was manufactured with centerboard and keel models.

The Montgomery 17 offers more stability than most of its rivals. And, when it comes to comfortability, the Montgomery 17 again stands above the rest.

This boat has the capability of going about moderate offshore passages. You can easily trailer it as it is small enough in size.

Moreover, it is designed with a masthead and toe rail that fits most of the foresails. It has a proper amount of storage area, a DC power, an optional shore, and seating arrangements for two people offering a headroom, a pair of bunks, and a portable toilet.

Overall, the Montgomery 17 is among the giant-killers of the market when it comes to performance. Though small in size, it makes its way past its larger rivals and excels in the extremes.

That is not just it; using a four-part gear, you can easily uplift the deck-stepped mast.

  • The hull type is swing keel.
  • A flush deck version is also available.
  • Some versions feature a fixed keel.
  • There are three types of keel configurations available; retractable keel, shallow draft fixed keel, and a shallow draft fixed keel in conjunction with a centerboard.
  • Comfortability
  • Quite faster than its rivals
  • Outstanding racing record
  • Favorable handicap
  • Not suitable for deep sea

The Wrap Up

Hitting the water with the right sailboat can be an overwhelming task for many. To ease this process, the list above has narrowed down the 12 perfect small sailboats.

While there are infinite sailboats available in the market, the sailboats, as mentioned above, will serve you right and make you enjoy the ride.

However, in my opinion, the best of all is none other than the Catalina 22 Sport as it is the most moderate pick of all. You don’t have to compromise on either the quality or affordability.

In my opinion, you must not spend too little or much for too low or too high quality. A moderate model will serve as the perfect pick for you. Thus, Catalina 22 Sport being moderately robust and not-so-expensive wins my heart.

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The Best Shallow Draft Liveaboard Sailboat 2024

Looking for the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboat.

If you’re looking for the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboat then look no further.

After four years of living aboard our super shallow draft monohull, we are shallow draft boat connoisseurs and we can’t imagine being happy in anything other than a shallow keeled boat.

The Best Shallow Draft Liveaboard Sailboat

There are many different types of sailboats, and the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboat may not be the same for everyone. Some factors you might want to consider when choosing a sailboat include size, type of sailing, comfort, and cost.

One thing is fir sure, when choosing a vessel you will want to take into account the draft of a boat to make sure you can access the waterways you intend on cruising.

In this post, we will take a look at some of the best shallow keel liveaboard sailboats on the market today. So if you are in the market for a new sailboat, keep reading!

Table of Contents

The best large shallow draft sailboats.

  • The best small shallow keel sailboats

Shallow water sailing

The best spot in the anchorage, less chance of grounding, extra moving parts.

  • How To Find The Perfect Liveaboard Sailboat For You

The best large shallow draft sailboats

We’ve got some great suggestions for shallow draft liveaboard sailboats that are 38ft or above. Boats of this size are usually more practical for ocean crossings and have enough living space for a couple who expect to have guests regularly, or for a family.

#1 Kadey Krogen 38

The Kadey Krogen 38

The Kadey Krogen 38 is one of the best large shallow draft sailboats on the market today, offering plenty of space and comfort for all your sailing adventures (and we’re not just saying that because we live on one!)

With a maximum draft of just 3 feet, it can easily go where other boats cannot, making it perfect for exploring shallow waters. We have often entered a busy anchorage, snuck in shallow, and had all the room in the world.

The Kadey Krogen 38s are quite unique. All the ballast is in the tiny keel, and she has two centreboards that help performance. The large centreboard in the middle of the boat helps it point closer to the wind.

After a year of sailing without a functional centreboard we did find our upwind performance improved with the centreboard and tacking and heaving to was easier as well.

The after board helps with weather helm in heavy seas. It does make the steering handle a lot easier and is a great thing to have at your disposal, but we have also been in heavy seas and forgotten to lower it and the boat still tracked fine.

The perfect shallow draft sailboat in the sunset

What we really love about this design is the flexibility. As there is no weight in the boards we aren’t worried about losing them, and therefore losing the keel. The keel is fully encapsulated and going nowhere!

As a liveaboard sailboat, the Kadey Krogen 38s are extremely roomy. They have a wide beam and really make the most of the space. In fact, you could almost say they were designed for liveaboard, as the space is that cleverly laid out.

The cockpit is spacious which is perfect for entertaining. We have regularly seated 8 people in the cockpit and it has never felt like a squeeze. The locker lids are large enough to sleep on and we regularly do in the summer months when it’s stuffy below.

Saying that, we have never felt unsafe in big seas as there is coving all the way around and plenty of handholds and clip-in points.

a sailboat at anchor in a pretty bay

The interior is slightly different on each different boat, but they all have a separate shower in the head which is super handy, and the cabins have their own sinks. The owner’s bed is a full-sized double so you can use an off-the-shelf mattress, and there is storage for days.

One of the biggest drawbacks of this small keeled liveaboard sailboat is the compromise in steerage astern. She doesn’t do well with Med-mooring!

If you’re looking for a great shallow draft liveaboard sailboat that offers plenty of space and comfort, be sure to check out the Kadey Krogen 38.

Check it out on Sailboat Data

#2 Freedom Cat 40 Centreboard

If you’re looking for a great liveaboard sailboat with a shallow draft that offers plenty of space and comfort, be sure to check out the Freedom Cat 40 Centreboard. With a maximum draft of just 4 feet, this boat has no problem exploring the shallow waters of your favorite cruising grounds.

This boat sails well, especially on a reach, and is easy enough to handle as a couple or even a solo sailor.

Like the Kadey Krogen 38, this sailboat has a large cockpit but the Freedom 40 has a centre cockpit, which many prefer.

The Freedom 40 is a great liveaboard sailboat

Another standout feature of the Freedom Cat 40 is its spacious and well-designed interior. This boat is a great size for a liveaboard couple, with a large double bed aft as well as a v-berth forward.

While it does have some drawbacks–like poor maneuverability in reverse – there’s no doubt that the Freedom Cat 40 Centreboard is one of the best shallow draft liveaboard sailboats on the market today.

So if you’re looking for comfort, space, and flexibility, be sure to check out this amazing liveaboard sailboat!

#3 C&C 40 Centreboard Version

C&C 40 Centreboard Version

If you’re looking for an amazing shallow draft sailboat to live on that offers plenty of space and comfort, then the C&C 40 Centreboard Version is definitely worth considering.

With a maximum draft of just over 4 feet, this boat has no problem exploring the shallow waters of your favorite cruising grounds.

To maintain the same stability as the deeper keel versions of this sailboat, the centerboard boat carries an additional 885 pounds of ballast, making her noticeably slower in light air.

In tests, she was shown to be about 4 seconds slower per mile than the normal keel version in about 8 knots of wind, but basically identical in speed with 15+ knots of wind. For most cruisers, this won’t be an issue, but if you’re planning on using this sailboat for racing too then you might opt for the standard keel instead.

Another standout feature of this liveaboard sailboat is its spacious interior, designed for long-term living aboard. This boat can easily accommodate a couple, with a large v-berth forward as well as plenty of storage space throughout the interior.

there’s no doubt that the C&C 40 Centreboard Version is an incredibly comfortable and practical boat to sail.

#4 Privilege 435 Catamaran

Privilege 435 Catamaran

The Privilege 435 is built for performance and comfort, making it the perfect shallow keel liveaboard sailboat.

Most of these sailboats were built relatively recently, so while you might not be able to bag a bargain, you will find the latest navigation and safety equipment on board.

The fit and finish of these catamarans are excellent. You can expect high-quality materials and smart storage solutions. There are four separate cabins with their own heads, making it a great liveaboard sailboat for a family.

#5 Lagoon 40

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If you’re looking for a great shallow draft liveaboard sailboat that’s packed with top-of-the-line features, then the Lagoon 40 is definitely worth considering.

With a maximum draft of 1.35m, this boat offers plenty of space and comfort while being able to explore the shallow waters of your favorite cruising grounds.

One of the biggest benefits of this amazing sailboat is its spacious and well-designed interior. With plenty of room for a couple or even a solo sailor, you’ll love spending long days at sea aboard the Lagoon 40.

One of the biggest downsides of catamarans is usually their upwind performance, but the Lagoon 40 will keep her speed even at a 50-degree apparent wind angle.

So if you’re looking for comfort, space, and flexibility, be sure to check out this amazing liveaboard sailboat today!

#6 Prout Snowgoose 37

Prout catamarans have a great reputation among liveaboard sailors, and the Snowgoose is one of the most popular designs.

Prout no longer exists as a company, as it was bought by Broadblue in the 90s. Broadblue still makes catamarans today, and they have very similar features to the original Prouts, though obviously they are far fancier and have all the benefits of a more modern design!

The Snowgoose catamaran benefits from a shallow draft of 2.08ft, meaning you won’t have any trouble at all in shallow waters. It sails well and is a suitable bluewater sailboat, however, a low bridge deck clearance makes the boat slam in waves, both at anchor and underway.

The best small shallow draft sailboats to live on

a sailboat motoring out of an anchorage

As these are still liveaboard sailboats, we haven’t added any under 30ft. If you’re living aboard solo then 30ft is probably the smallest you will want to go before the sailing lifestyle starts to feel a bit too much like camping!

Here are our top picks for small small keel liveaboard sailboats.

#7 Columbia 31

If you’re looking for a compact, high-quality shallow keel sailboat that’s perfect for both recreational sailing and liveaboard cruising, then the Columbia 31 is definitely worth checking out.

With a maximum draft of just over 3 feet, this sailboat will be able to sneak into shallow anchorages with ease. It sails adequately and will be more than good enough for coastal cruising.

With its small size comes some definite compromises – while it may be great for traveling in sheltered waters and coastal areas, the Columbia 31 doesn’t have much in the way of speed or stability when going offshore.

That said, this little sailboat is incredibly well-built and carries all the hallmarks of quality craftsmanship. Its solid fiberglass hull and spacious interior for a boat of this size make the Columbia 31 a great option for both recreational and liveaboard sailing.

So whether you’re looking to sail in shallow water, explore coastal areas, or just spend some time living aboard, the Columbia 31 is definitely worth considering!

#8 Pearson 35

The sun setting over the sea

Pearson makes some great sailboats and is mostly well-regarded within the sailing community. The Pearson 35 is no exception and boasts the longest production run of any other Pearson model.

Boasting a shallow draft of just under 4 feet and a surprisingly spacious interior for a boat of this size, the Pearson 35 is an excellent small-sized liveaboard sailboat that won’t disappoint.

Due to its relatively simple construction, however, there are some definite downsides – while you’ll be able to find older models at great prices, they often have several issues that will need to be repaired before setting off on your next sailing adventure.

That said, if you’re looking for a dependable little sailboat that will allow you to explore shallow waters and coastal areas, the Pearson 35 is definitely worth considering.

#9 Gemini 105Mc (34ft)

The Gemini 105Mc is still in production in the US, which speaks to its popularity.

If you’re looking for a small keel sailboat on the smaller side, that still has plenty of space for living aboard, then this might be the perfect compromise. Many of these small catamarans have completed ocean passages so you won’t be limited on cruising grounds.

It has two double cabins, good headroom throughout, and nice finishes too.

A significant negative to this boat is the bridge deck clearance which isn’t amazing so you may experience some slamming. But that aside, this is a great small draft sailboat for anyone wanting to live aboard.

#10 Prout Event 34

The sails of a sailboat

These multihulls are quite hard to find, but if you like the Snowgoose but are on a tighter budget then they might be just what you’re looking for. These shallow draft catamarans share lots of features with the popular Snowgoose designs, just on a smaller scale.

There are three cabins, one head, a salon, and a galley, only they are rather squeezed in compared to the larger model.

The Prout Event 34 sails well and has crossed oceans, though it is also known for its slamming so if this is something that bothers you then you might want to think again before buying this liveaboard sailboat.

These shallow draft catamarans have an excellent reputation among cruisers because of their solid build and use of decent materials.

The boat has three cabins, a galley, saloon, and a head, so it’s perfect for slightly larger crews, though it’s obviously on the smaller side compared to some of the large shallow draft liveaboard boats on this list.

This catamaran sails well and people have crossed oceans in them, though they are probably better suited to coastal cruising

The bridge deck clearance is good on this catamaran so you shouldn’t experience too much slamming.

Why buy a narrow keel sailboat to live on?

a shallow draft liveaboard sailboat

There are many reasons why someone might choose to buy a sailboat with a small draft as a liveaboard.

Perhaps you don’t want the hassle of anchoring in deep water or dealing with the challenges that come with mooring, or maybe you simply enjoy being able to explore shallow coastal areas where other boats can’t go.

We’ll explore some of the reasons in more depth below.

Shallow water sailing refers to cruising in coastal areas where other boats cannot go.

The shallow draft of a sailboat means that you can easily explore coves, anchorages, and bays off the beaten track. Even if it’s just for an afternoon, there is something really special about being able to truly get away from it all by sailing away from the crowds in a secluded cove or anchorage.

Getting the best spot in the anchorage

One of the great things about living aboard a sailboat is that you have the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. You can easily move on if you find somewhere that better suits your needs, or stay put and enjoy all the great amenities at your favorite anchorage.

While many people love big marinas with all their facilities and good ground tackle, many others prefer the peace and quiet of a secluded anchorage. If you’re one of those people who simply love finding the best spot in an anchorage then living aboard a shallow draft sailboat is perfect for you.

You will be able to sneak into bays that no one else can reach, or anchor in shallow waters of busier anchorages when there is seemingly no space.

a shallow draft sailboat anchored between rocks

On a sailboat with a lifting centreboard you have lowered odds of damaging your boat.

In fact, we have even heard of experienced sailors using their centreboard as a worst-case depth sounder, allowing you to risk sneaking into unchartered shallow waters without any significant risk of damaging your boat.

If you hit rock bottom (literally) then at best your centreboard will be knocked higher into its slot, and at worst you might damage the centreboard a little, but either way, your keel will remain unharmed!

The disadvantages of a shallow draft liveaboard sailboat

the sunset with a sailboat in the foreground

As always, alongside the advantages of shallow draft sailboats are some disadvantages to make you question your decision.

For us, after four years of living aboard, we would say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but it is so depending on personal opinion and taste.

Here are the main disadvantages of shallow keel liveaboard sailboats.

One reason that many people choose not to live aboard a sailboat with a small draft is the reduced stability.

Compared to a deeper draft boat, your centre of gravity is lower on a shallow draft sailboat which can be worrying when you are in open water, particularly if there are swells or high winds.

On our Kadey Krogen 38 we haven’t found this to be a problem. She handles brilliantly in big seas and we have always felt very safe and stable. In swelly anchorages, she doesn’t fair so well and is usually one of the more rolly boats in the anchorages (though interestingly quite often not the worst!)

Another disadvantage of a shallow draft sailboat is that they are not always easy to steer, especially when going astern.

Our sailboats prop walk is quite impressive! Getting into mooring slips astern is very tricky indeed. This is a problem on a lot of deep, full-keeled sailboats so we aren’t alone in our troubles! One way around this is to just enter mooring slips forward and drop an anchor astern.

A sailboat with a centreboard is not as simple to maintain as one without.

In the four years that we’ve owned our boat, we have replaced both her swing keel bearing and the cable that connects it to the winch on deck. For some people, this might be more than they are willing or able to deal with, but for us, it has been simple to do and is part of the reason we love our boat.

How To Find The Perfect Liveaboard Sailboat With A Shallow Draft

a catamaran from above

If you’re looking to buy a shallow keel sailboat then you’ll need to take a few things into consideration.

Budget is key for most people when buying a boat to live in. You will need to compromise between size, age of the boat, and budget. Smaller, older monohulls tend to be cheaper than larger, newer multihulls.

One of the most convenient ways to decide where to search for sailboats is to look in the location you will be cruising in. This is easy enough if your cruising grounds are popular and large, like in Europe or the USA.

You will find it much harder to find the right boat for you if you’re only prepared to buy in a very specific place or on cruising grounds that are tricky to reach, like remote islands. That being said, if you can find the right boat for you in one of these places then you are more likely to get a great deal.

Size of Sailboat

As mentioned earlier, the bigger the boat the more you are likely to pay. That being said, if you’re looking for a liveaboard sailboat then the last thing you want to do is buy a boat that is far too small to meet your requirements.

Consider how many people will be living aboard full time, or almost full time. For a couple, a 38ft boat is usually a comfortable size, though there are couples living on 34-36ft boats (and they’re still together!)

For a family, or if you plan on having crew on for longer periods of time, you might consider getting a larger monohull or a catamaran so that everyone can have their own private space on board.

Larger boats tend to be more comfortable at sea too, so make sure you go for something a little bigger if you plan on crossing oceans.

Conclusion: The Best Shallow Draft Liveaboard Sailboats

a sailboat in the sea

Ultimately, finding the perfect boat will depend on what is important to you and what kind of experience you want to have while living on board.

The best shallow keel liveaboard sailboat is one that meets all of your needs and requirements. Whether you are looking for something large or small, budget-friendly or luxurious, there is sure to be a boat out there that will fit the bill.

So do your research, talk to other boaters in your area, and make sure you find the perfect vessel for your unique needs. Happy hunting!

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Small Sailboat Types: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Vessel

9th mar 2023 by toi williams.

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Learning how to sail can lead to years of fun and adventure, and having the right sailboat can make your experiences on the water even more enjoyable. Small sailboats have increased in popularity over the last few decades as more people have taken up sailing as a hobby, and today, many types of small sailboats are available for various types of activities.

So, what small sailboat types could be right for you?

Types of Small Sailboats

The term "small sailboats" encompasses a wide range of sailboat models. Generally, if a boat is less than 25 feet long and has a mast, rudder, and sail, it is considered a small sailboat. Various types of small sailboats have different characteristics that make them better for certain types of sailing. Here are some of the most popular small sailboat types. 

Small sailboats on the lake

Sailing dinghies

Sailing dinghies are frequently chosen because they are light and responsive. They are usually rigged with one mast and one sail, making them easy to handle, and they have a shallow draft, allowing them to be used almost anywhere. Sailing dinghies are also some of the least expensive sailboats because they tend to be simple with few features.

Laser – Laser sailing dinghies are nearly 14 feet long and weigh about 130 pounds, making them easy to maneuver and transport.

Beetle Cat - Beetle Cat sailing dinghies are roughly 12 feet long and have a draft of 2 feet, which makes them great for coastal cruising.

Sunfish - The Sunfish has a simple 14-foot setup and is ideal for those who want to learn how to sail. 

Catalina 16.5 - The Catalina 16.5 is slightly over 17 feet long and can draft as low as 5 inches on the water.

RS Venture – The Venture model from RS Sailing is 16 feet long and is often used in training classes for those new to sailing. 

RS Aero – The Aero model from RS Sailing is nearly 14 feet long and is known for its speed, making it popular with experienced racers.

Topaz Taz – At slightly under 10 feet in length, the Topaz Taz is one of the smallest sailing dinghies currently available. 

Topaz Taz small sailing dinghy

Topaz Taz. Photo credit: Topper Saliboats

Daysailer is a broad categorization of small sailboat types based on usage and size. Daysailers, also known as dayboats, are larger than sailing dinghies and are available with or without sleeping accommodations. At Rightboat, we list a large selection of daysailers in a wide variety of styles. 

Marblehead 22 – The Marblehead 22 is a daysailer with a cockpit that is nearly 12 feet long. It has plenty of room to seat several people.

Catalina 22 Sport – The Catalina 22 Sport daysailer is nearly 22 feet long, can sleep four people, and has a retractable keel for a draft of less than two feet.

Cape Cod Daysailer – This 16-foot sailboat is one of the most affordable models for its size and has enough room to seat several people comfortably. 

West Wight Potter P19 – The P19 model from West Wight Potter is just under 20 feet long and comes with four berths, a galley, a sink, and a stove.

Sun Cat – This daysailer from Com-Pac Yachts is nearly 18 feet long and has twin 6-foot berths as well as a handful of other useful amenities.

Marblehead 22 small daysailer

Photo credit: Zurn

Small sloops

Small sloop is another popular category of small sailboat types. These sailboats are easy to maintain and easy to learn to control and maneuver. They are characterized by a single-mast rig, which typically has a triangular mainsail and a headsail. Small sloops can usually be sailed with one to four people aboard and can be used for all types of sailing in different conditions.

Montgomery 17 – This small sloop has a length of roughly 17 feet and a retractable centerboard keel that can make the boat draft just 2 feet.

Super Snark - The Super Snark is 11 feet long and weighs just 50 pounds with a payload capacity of about 310 pounds. 

Flying Scot - At just under 20 feet in length, the Flying Scot is one of the larger small sailboats, allowing it to comfortably seat up to eight people. 

BayRaider - The BayRaider is nearly 20 feet long with most of that space occupied by an open cockpit. 

Small catamarans

Small catamarans are a good choice for sailors who want some extra stability on the water. These sailboats have two hulls that create a wide and stable base and can be rigged with one or two sails. Small catamarans are often used for cruising, fishing, and racing.

Hobie 16 - The Hobie 16 is slightly less than 17 feet long and is known for being fast, making it very popular with speed-loving sailors.

Minicat - Minicat has developed a line of inflatable catamarans with multi-piece masts that are available in various sizes. 

More information:  Buying A Sailing Catamaran

Hobie 16 small catamaran

Photo credit: Hobie

Advantages of Small Sailboats

There are many reasons why you might prefer one of the small sailboat types over a larger model. Here are some of the most common reasons for choosing small sailboats. 

Small sailboats are easy to sail

Small sailboats are often easier to sail because their rigging and steering are simpler. Small sailboats also react quicker to wind shifts, putting sailors more in tune with their surroundings. 

Small sailboats are more affordable

The simplicity of small sailboats means you won't be paying a higher price for a bunch of features you don't need. If you choose to buy a certified used sailboat from our experts at Rightboat, you can save even more.

Small sailboats are easier to maintain

Maintenance needs for a small sailboat can be considerably less than what is necessary for their larger counterparts, saving you a significant amount of money over the life of your boat. The model and brand you choose are the biggest factors determining how easy it will be to maintain the boat.

man laser sailboat

Disadvantages of small sailboats

While there are a lot of things to like about small sailboats, they can also present some challenges in different types of sailing conditions. Here are some reasons why a smaller sailboat may not be the best choice for you.

Small sailboats sail slower

The smaller sails and hull of these types of sailboats make them go slower in the water when compared to larger sailboats. Unless a small sailboat is specifically designed for racing, do not expect it to travel very fast offshore. 

Small sailboats have less space

While space is limited on all types of boats, this is especially noticeable with a small sailboat. This lack of space can make it difficult to plan extended trips without frequent stops to replenish your supplies. 

Small sailboats have fewer comforts

Small sailboats are typically designed to be simple to launch and operate, so many of the comforts found on larger sailboats are absent on smaller models. In many cases, small sailboats do not have much seating and lack a galley for food preparation or a berth for sleeping. 

Many factors go into choosing the right type of boat for your needs. While small sailboats are effective for a variety of purposes, they can present some challenges in certain conditions. At Rightboat, you can find the best boat for your sailing goals and your budget.

For more information check out our guide: 

What are the Different Types of Sailboats?

Choosing the Best Beginner Sailboat

Written By: Toi Williams

More from: Toi Williams

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Trailerable Sailboats Comparison

Trailerable Sailboats Comparison | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Trailerable sailboats come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These vessels can be used for everything from racing to offshore cruising.

In this article, we'll compare six of the most common trailerable sailboat types along with their uses. Additionally, we'll cover vessel design elements that distinguish different types of trailerable sailboats.

The most common types of trailerable sailboats include dinghies, racers, open-top cruising sailboats, pocket cruisers, coastal cruisers, and compact offshore sailboats. These vessels differ by size, rig type, hull type, and weight.

The information contained in this article was sourced from sailing guides and vessel identification records. Additionally, we took into consideration the opinions of sailors with experience on a variety of trailerable sailboats.

Table of contents

Defining Trailerable Sailboats

What distinguishes a trailerable sailboat from any other small cruising craft? The first and most obvious consideration is size. A trailerable sailboat has to meet the dimensional requirements set forth by the Department of Transportation. In other words, it must fit on a trailer that's small enough to travel on the road.

An additional consideration is weight. A trailerable sailboat should weigh less than around 7,000 pounds, as this is the upper towing limit for most typical Class C vehicles. Most trailerable sailboats can be towed behind a typical half ton pickup or SUV.

Additionally, most trailerable sailboats have a swing keel or centerboard. This makes it possible to rest a boat on a low trailer. Most displacement keels are simply too tall, though there are a few exceptions. The maximum trailer load height in most states is 14 ft, which a trailerable sailboat should clear without trouble.

Length is a consideration, though it's not as important as width. The maximum beam of a trailerable sailboat is 8 ft 6 in, as this is the limit for standard trailers on American highways. Typically, trailerable sailboats don't exceed 30 feet in length, as the length to beam ratio of a longer boat would lead to poor handling characteristics.

The final consideration is rigging. Due to height requirements, trailerable sailboats must have collapsible masts. Additionally, rudders and other items that extend beyond the hull must fold or stow in some manner.

Types of Trailerable Sailboats

Trailerable sailboats come in many varieties, weights, in sizes. These vessels are designed for specific uses, such as racing, cruising, fishing, or training. Here are the most common kinds of trailerable sailboats, along with what they're used for.

1. Dinghies

Dinghies are small, open sailing craft that usually don't exceed 15 feet in length. Dinghies are designed for use in protected waters. They're sometimes used to shuttle between an anchored sailboat and the shore. Dinghies are popular racing vessels, and many sailing schools use them for sailing instruction.

Popular Trailerable Dinghies:

  • Optimist “Optie” (7 ft 9 in LOA)
  • Minto (9 ft LOA)
  • Wayfarer (16 ft)

Trailerable racing sailboats are long and narrow. They're designed for speed and agility, not comfort or offshore cruising. These boats generally have a low profile, and they're often open-top and lack sleeping accommodations.

Racing sailboats are lightweight and easy to tow. That said, trailerable racing sailboats are designed for experienced sailors as they're easier to capsize in high winds. These vessels range in size from 15 feet to over 25 feet.

Popular Trailerable Racing Sailboats:

  • National 12 (12 ft)
  • Sunfish (13 ft 9 in)
  • Merlin Rocket (14 ft)

3. Open-Top Cruisers

Open-top cruising sailboats lack a cabin. However, these seaworthy craft are more than capable of coastal cruising in a variety of conditions. Many of these vessels are based on proven workboat designs that date back over a century. These vessels are ideal for harbor sailing and cruising on lakes.

Some people use open-top cruising sailboats for camping, as these traditional vessels are long enough to lay down a cot or sleeping bag. They make a great starter sailboat, as they're safe and easy to store in the garage or driveway.

Popular Trailerable Open-Top Cruisers

  • Norseboat (17 ft 6 in)
  • Bay Rider (20 ft)
  • Com-Pac Legacy (23)

4. Pocket Cruisers

Pocket cruisers are similar to coastal cruisers, though they're distinguishable by their size and amenities. Generally speaking, a pocket cruiser is a small sailboat (under 25 feet in length) that features a cabin, galley, self-draining cockpit, and other 'big boat' accommodations.

Pocket cruisers usually aren't designed for serious offshore cruising, but they are comfortable for extended coastal or inland voyages. They weigh more than racing vessels, as stability is a key aspect of their design. Pocket cruisers are popular because they offer impressive capabilities in a small package.

Popular Trailerable Pocket Cruisers

  • Sandpiper (15 ft)
  • Sanderling (18 ft)
  • West Wight Potter (19 ft)

5. Coastal Cruisers

Coastal cruisers are some of the most popular trailerable sailboats on the market. These vessels usually feature a cabin with a V-berth and a sink, though they occasionally include a head and a complete galley. Coastal cruisers are seaworthy enough for most near-shore and inland weather conditions.

Some adventurous sailors have taken coastal cruisers on extended bluewater voyages, though it's not particularly common. The size and sailing characteristics of these vessels is often not their greatest limiting factor.

There's only so many provisions you can store aboard a 22 to 25-foot sailboat, which is why coastal cruisers are generally considered impractical for offshore voyaging. Coastal cruisers handle well, and they're easy to sail, which is why this type of trailerable sailboat is popular in bays and harbors across the country.

Popular Trailerable Coastal Cruisers

  • Cal 20 (20 ft)
  • Catalina 22 (22 ft)
  • Hunter 22 (22 ft)

6. Compact Offshore Sailboats

Compact offshore sailboats are the rarest and most capable type of trailerable sailboat. These vessels are a big boat in a compressed package. They typically feature a long displacement keel, a wide beam, and a cramped but feature-filled cabin.

These vessels are true cruising boats inside and out. The cabins usually feature a full galley, standing headroom, ahead with a shower, a V-berth upfront, and provisions for navigation. Their rigging is strong enough to handle offshore weather conditions.

Compact offshore sailboats usually have the greatest displacement, as their deep draft and wide beam keep them stable in rolling seas. This also contributes to greater dry weight, which is why they can't be towed by small vehicles.

Vessels of this type are technically trailerable, as they meet the dimensional requirements to travel on the highway. That's said, moving one of these boats is difficult. Owners generally keep these vessels in the water or in dry storage most of the year to avoid the hazard and hassle of towing such a hefty boat.

Popular Compact Offshore Cruisers

  • Flicka 20 (20 ft)
  • Dana 24 (24 ft)
  • Nor'Sea 27 (27 ft)

The keel of a sailboat keeps it stable and tracking a straight course. Most trailerable sailboats have retractable keels of some variety, though some have fixed (permanently lowered) keels. Here are the most common types of trailerable sailboat keels in order of their popularity.

1. Centerboard

A centerboard is a form of retractable keel that's common on the smallest types of trailerable sailboats. A centerboard is essentially a long, thin blade that descends through a hole in the bottom of the boat.

Half of the centerboard remains inside the boat in a box called the 'centerboard trunk.' Centerboards are simple and easy to use, but the centerboard trunk takes up useful space in the cockpit or cabin.

2. Swing Keel

The swing keel is a type of retractable keel that eliminates the inconvenient centerboard trunk. A swing keel is a centerboard with a hinge on one end. It lives in a trunk, typically below the base of the hull, and swings down when in use.

Swing keels allow the sailboat to ride low on a trailer, which makes them a popular choice for pocket cruisers and trailer-sailers. Swing keels raise and lower using a  block and tackle system or a crank, usually located near the bilge or under a seat.

3. Fin Keel

Fin keels are less common on trailerable sailboats than they are on larger cruising boats. This type of keel is fixed to the bottom of the hull. A fin keel blade extends between 12 inches and 3 feet below the hull, and it occasionally includes a hydrodynamic bulb on the end. Fin keels are most often found on racing boats.

4. Semi-Displacement

Semi-displacement keels are long, fixed keels that run along the aft 2/3 of the hull. This type of keel is designed for cruising boats that value speed but still want to retain the stability and seaworthiness of a full keel.

Some trailerable sailboats have semi-displacement keels, especially if they're designed for offshore use. The benefits of a semi-displacement keel over a full keel are negligible on a trailer, as both types have a deep draft and high ride height.

5. Displacement (Full Keel)

Displacement keels are traditional and highly seaworthy. This type of keel runs across the entire length of the hull, usually reaching its deepest point at the stern. Displacement keels are found on vessels that are designed for offshore use.

Displacement keels are uncommon on trailerable sailboats, as they're long and cause the vessel to ride high on a trailer. Additionally, the type of vessel that uses a displacement keel is often wide and heavy, which isn't ideal for trailering.

Collapsable rigging is a hallmark of trailerable sailboats. The best trailerable sailboats have collapsible masts that stow securely across the deck. These vessels typically have a fork-shaped mast boot that acts as a hinge, allowing sailors to easily lower and secure the mast.

Many trailerable sailboats are gaff rigged. Though the traditional gaff rig is more complex than a modern Bermuda rigs, it uses a shorter and stronger mast. This has obvious benefits for trailerable boats, as the mast and spars store more easily.

Trailer Types

There are multiple types of trailers used to tow and store sailboats. The most common kind of sailboat trailer is the single-axle trailer. These trailers have one wheel on each side, and you can tow them with a standard Class IV trailer hitch.

Larger sailboats, such as heavy offshore cruising vessels, require something a bit sturdier. These vessels typically ride on dual-axle trailers, which have two wheels on each side.

Larger trailers, such as those with two axles, connect to a standard trailer hitch or to a fifth wheel hitch, which is mounted in the bed of a truck. Fifth-wheel trailers are the least common type of sailboat trailer.

Sailboat Weight and Towing

Dry weight is an important factor to consider when comparing trailerable sailboats. It's important to avoid confusing displacement and weight, even though both values use the same units.

Displacement is the weight of the water displaced by the vessel, whereas dry weight determines how much the boat weighs with its tanks empty and bilge dry. The ideal towing weight of a typical trailerable sailboat is between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds. This weight is within the towing capabilities of most trucks and full-size SUVs.

Larger trailerable vessels, such as many coastal cruisers and offshore trailer-sailers, can weigh 7,500 pounds or more. A sailboat of this magnitude requires a heavy-duty towing vehicle, such as a 1-ton diesel pickup truck.

Best Trailerable Sailboat for Cruising

For protected cruising, such as in a bay or after the river, it's hard to overlook the Catalina 22. This iconic fiberglass sailboat is known for easy handling and fun sailing characteristics. It has a comfortable cabin with plenty of room for a weekend on the water.

For more extensive cruising, especially offshore, the best trailerable sailboat is the Nor'Sea 27. This vessel is ideal due to its spacious interior and full accommodations. It has a full keel for stability, along with a head, galley, and sleeping arrangements down below.

Best Trailerable Sailboat for Weekend Sailing

The ideal weekend cruiser should be easy to tow in fast to rig, as larger and more complex vessels take too much time and effort the launch. With this in mind, it's a tie between the Wayfarer dinghy and the West Wight Potter. Both of these vessels are well-designed, fast to launch, and fun to sail.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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The Best Small Sailboat For Beginners. 8 Great Boat Options

Updated March 23rd, 2024

best small sailboats for beginners

If you are new to sailing and want to get a boat, what should you get? There are tons of sailboats out there on Craigslist, eBay, and Marketplace. Prices can range from free to a hundred thousand or more. What should you get for your first sailboat? Keep reading below to learn a little more about sailboats and what you should look for. I also have my picks for the best small sailboat for beginners.

What makes a sailboat good for beginners?

I learned to sail in middle school and have done it regularly since then. I spent my college summers working as a children’s sailing school instructor at a few yacht clubs around the US. I’ve raced sailboats a ton too on all kinds of boats from collegiate buoy racing too overnight long distance races. After years of doing this, I am way more of a go sailing for fun kind of guy than someone who lives for the competition.

For anyone thinking about learning to sail, it’s not that hard to learn sailing basics. You can teach yourself watching Youtube vidoes but it wouldn’t hurt to take a sailing lesson just to learn the basic sailing terms and see a live hands on demonstration of how to sail.

Here is what I have learned over the years for which boats make learning to sail easier.

Easy to sail

You need a boat that is easy to sail. You don’t want to get a boat that capsizes super easily. You want a stable boat that can tolerate some mistakes without sending you into the drink. You want a boat that isn’t too overpowered so it won’t feel terrifying if the wind picks up while you are out.

Easy to rig

You want a boat you can rig and put together easily. If it’s a trailerable boat you need a mast you can put up and down without hurting your back or needing a bunch of tricks. A racing boat with a lot of sail controls may have a ton of things you need to hook up when rigging it and lots of adjustments depending on wind conditions. A recreational day sailing boat may have very few. As a beginner sailor looking for a boat, less is more. You want something that leans towards, lift the mast, put the sails on, hoist, and go.

What exactly is a small sailboat anyways? A read an article recently in a popular sailboat cruising magazine. They labeled a 36 footer as a “compact cruising yacht”. There is nothing compact or small about a 36 footer. Bigger sailboats react slower to steering and sail controls. A larger boat will have a lot more momentum when you are trying to get on and off the dock. The bigger the boat, the more load and force on all the lines and sails.

I recommend learning to sail first on something simple like a Sunfish. A little 14 foot sailing dinghy that can hold 1 or 2 adults. If your more ambitious and want to start with a boat you could go cruising in then a Catalina 25 or 27 are good choices. You really should not go any bigger than that for your first boat. A Catalina 30 weighs twice as much as a Catalina 27 and you can’t just easily push it around the dock. A 30 footer should be saved for your second or later boat.

Dinghy vs keelboat

Your first sailboat can be a dinghy without a keel or a keelboat. Small keelboats can make really good learning boats. With most keelboats you don’t need to worry about capsizing. If you go with a dinghy get something that is easy to upright.

Flying Scots are used for learning sailboats in many places including a sailing club I used to belong too. They are big stable and tubby. They are horrible to upright if you do manage to capsize them. You will need help from a powerboat to do it. If you go for a dinghy with no keel, it is better to stick to 15 feet or under so you can upright it without outside help. The 16 to 20 foot dinghy is where it can take some skill to self rescue yourself after a capsize if it’s possible at all.

If you decide to get a 20 to 25 foot keelboat, it is easiest to keep them at a marina with a hoist or preferably in the water. Trailer launching keelboats is a challenge even with a swing keel because of how deep you need to get them in the water to float off the trailer.

Minimal sail controls

When you learn to sail, all you really need are a halyard to hoist the mainsail, a sheet to control the mainsail. You don’t really need anything else to be adjustable. That is all you need to sail upwind, downwind, or any other point of sail. Everything else is extra for a beginner.

1 or 2 sails

When you learn to sail all you need is a mainsail. The near perfect learning sailboat is the Sunfish which has a lateen rig with only 1 sail. It has really simple controls and you can rig it wrong and it will still sail for you.

It is okay to learn to sail on a sloop rigged boat with 2 sails. A mainsail and a headsail or jib. Stop there.

You don’t need a spinnaker. Ask anyone who has raced sailboats and they will have stories about what went wrong with a spinnaker. Spinnakers are responsible for breaking more stuff on a sailboat than anything else.

There are boats out there with 2 or more masts such as a ketch or yawl. The second mast is called a mizzen mast. Don’t even think of getting one of these either. It’s just more distraction and things that can break or go wrong. You don’t want a cutter rigged sloop. These have 2 headsails which you again don’t need or want.

Tiller steering

Your first boat should have tiller steering. Don’t get a boat with wheel steering. The wheel mechanism has a lot of drag and slop in it and you won’t feel how the boat is reacting. A tiller lets you immediately feel the boat is out of balance. A tiller is easier to learn to sail upwind with by learning to push it towards or away from the sail. Wheel steering is less intuitive. Stay away from that big cruise with a wheel.

Trailerable boats vs marinas

I grew up in central Pennsylvania where we had small lakes to sail on. This meant a trailerable small boat when we got our first sailboat. I currently live in Michigan near the Great Lakes. Most boats I’ve had as an adult have lived at a marina and not at my house.

If you want to sail more often, keep it rigged at a marina so you have to do the very least possible to get it out on the water. I use my sailboats way more often when I don’t have to hook it up to a car, drag it to the lake, rig it and do the reverse to go home. The downside is cost. Keeping even a Sunfish at a marina or yacht club can cost a lot.

If you want to experience sailing on a low budget, trailering smaller boats is a fine way to go. If you want more convenience and your willing to pay for it consider keeping your boat rigged at a marina.

Portable boats (multi-section hull or inflatable)

There are a few new entries in the boating world that focus on making the boat easier to store and transport. These involve either inflatable hulls or a folding or multi-section hull. These let you store the boat in your garage, large closet or spare room. You can fit them in the back of a small SUV for transport without roof racks or a trailer. 2 great examples of these are the Tiwal inflatable sailboat and Minicat inflatable catamaran.

Commonly available and easy to get parts

Stuff will break on your sailboat if you use it enough. Some parts on a boat are really generic such as pullies, blocks and lines. Other parts are not such as boom or mast end fittings, rudders, etc… There are a lot of cheap boats out on Craigslist. There are a million old 15 foot 2 person sloop rigged sailing dinghies out there in people’s yards. Before buying any of these make sure that all the parts are there. Do not buy one without seeing it rigged with sails up first.

If your not sure find an experienced sailor friend who sails to go look at it with you. If anything is broken look up to see if you can get a replacement part. For many of these old boats, replacement parts are impossible to find which is why they are being given away for not much or free.

If a boat has an active racing class still, there is a good chance replacement parts are available. Racers go out in high winds and push the boat which means they break stuff. Boats like a Sunfish or Laser that are still produced and raced all over are easy to get sails and spare parts.

Keep it inexpensive

When you are buying your starter boat, know that it won’t be your last boat. You will learn what you like and don’t like and you’ll want another boat. There is a disease among sailors called “Threefootitis”. No matter how big a boat you buy, you will always want one at least a 3 feet bigger boat. Don’t spend a ton on your first sailboat. There are tons of Sunfish out there for under $1000 and even under $500. I once got one for free that was still in racing condition. The biggest boat you should consider, something like a Catalina 27, can be had for well under $5000. Under $10,000 for a fully optioned one with wheel steering and a diesel inboard.

See our guide to how much does a small sailboat cost to learn more about what it costs to buy a sailboat.

My top 8 picks for the best small sailboat for beginners

1 – minicat inflatable catamaran.

minicat inflatable sailboat

Minicat makes a line of inflatable catamarans. They are available in a few sizes and suitable for children up to a few adults. Minicat’s use an inflatable hulls with a multi-piece mast and trampoline. The whole thing can be put away in 1 to 2 bags that are 6ft x 1ft x 1ft. They will easily fit in the back of an SUV with the rear seats folded or easily tied to a roof rack.=

The Minicat can hit high speeds just like a solid hulled catamaran. They have a full length fin down each hull to generate power. They are as fun to sail as any traditional hobie cat or other beach catameran but much easier to transport and store.

The Minicat 420 is their most popular design. It is about the same size as a Hobie 14 and good for up to 4 adults. You can learn more about or get one from Great Lakes Watercraft .

2 – Tiwal Inflatable Sailboats

tiwal2 sailing

Tiwal makes a line of 3 inflatable sailboats. They range from a basic dinghy to a performance racer. They are capable of sailing with 1-3 adults and children depending on the model. They break down into bags that will fit in the back of most people’s cars.

They use modern rigs with furling or reefing options so you can use them in a variety of winds. They use drop-stich construction to be able to create a v-hull that gives good performance on the water. The Tiwal 3R has hiking racks for even more performance.

Tiwal sailboats have been seen on Below Deck Sailing Yacht. They are one of the favorite water toys for people cruising on big boats. They let anyone try sailing with a small, easy to transport, and affordable package.

Visit Tiwal.com to learn more about their sailboats.

3 – Sunfish

sunfish sailboats

I personally learned to sail on a Sunfish. It is still one of the best sailboats to learn sailing on. It is a super simple boat design that is easy and fun to sail and virtually anyone can rig or launch it.

Sunfish are small, 14 foot sailboats with a lateen rig that only has a main sail. They are sometimes referred to as board boats. They have a flat deck you sit on top of. These are common at beach resorts around the world so almost everyone has seen one at one point or another.

They are extremely simple to rig. You put the mast through the sail/booms and into the hull. There is one halyard to raise the sail. They have one sheet to control the sail. Racers have figured out ways to rig more controls but chances are, any boat you buy used won’t have them. 2 adults can easily fit on a Sunfish for sailing around.

Sunfish are very forgiving and easy to sail. The square sided hard chined hull makes them feel stable in the water even in a lot of wind. If you do capsize they are easy to upright and self bailing.

New Sunfish are still being built and they are raced in many places so parts are sails are easy to get. If you do feel like giving racing a try, chances are there is somewhere you can do it. The boats are sturdy and durable.

To learn more about Sunfish go here.

4 – Laser

laser sailboat

A Laser is another 14 foot 1 or 2 person sailboat that falls under the board boat category. They are very common and raced all over the place. It is the most popular racing sailboat in the history of sailing. They are currently an Olympic class boat as well. They have been raced at the Olympics in every summer games since 1996.

Lasers are less stable and capsize easier than Sunfish. They are a bit faster and higher performance for those wanting a little more oomph. They are still manageable for beginners. They are one of the easiest boats out there to upright after a capsize. If you choose one, take it out on lighter wind days until you get the hang of it. Don’t start out on a day with lots of wind and white caps or you will probably spend the whole day capsizing over and over.

Lasers are available with different sized sails. The most common version is the standard laser. The next most common is called the “Laser Radial” which has a smaller sail and mast. Some boats will have both. If it’s your first boat I strongly recommend looking for a boat with a Radial rig.

The thing to watch for with Lasers is their mast step. This is where the mast goes into the hull. If you are looking for one, pour a glass of water into the hole and see if it stays there or drains into the hull. If it drains into the hull, walk away from that boat. The weakness of these boats is the mast to hull joint which weakens with time and lots of use. If the mast step holds water it is fine.

To learn more about Lasers go here.

5 – West Wight Potter 15/19

west wight potter sailboat

West Wight Potters are very small cruising keelboats. They come in 15 and 19 foot versions. The 15 footer can be towed behind almost any car. The 19 footer needs a good sized SUV like an Explorer. They are very simple sloop rigged boats without any extra racing controls. They have keels and are stable. There are lots of them out there and they are still being made.

These aren’t the fastest or flashiest boats out there. They are easy to rig, easy to sail and you can do trailer cruising on them. These are for sail regularly on Craigslist and Marketplace. They are known to be solidly built without any common failure points.

If you are looking for a small keelboat you can learn to sail with and tow around these are a great choice.

To learn more about West Wight Potters go here.

6 – Catalina 25 and Catalina 27

Catalina 27 sailing

Dinghy sailing isn’t for everyone. Some people are more interested in a cruising boat they can go places with and stay over night. If that is you then a Catalina 25 or 27 is a great choice. Catalina 25 and Catalina 27s are 2 of the most common small cruising keelboats out there. They were built from the 1970’s through late 1980’s. There were thousands of both of them built. I have owned 2 Catalina 27’s and had a ton of fun on both of them. They are easy to sail, dock and take care of. They are at the large end of what you should consider for a beginner sailboat but still manageable.

Both boats were available with lots of options. Catalina 27’s can be simple with tiller steering and outboards. They can be more decked out with wheel steering and diesel of gas inboards. Catalina 25’s are the same although they are all tiller steering. Catalina 25s have either a fixed feel or a retractable keel for trailering. As a trailer boat they are huge and you’ll need something like an F350 to tow it.

For your first sailboat, look for a tiller steering, outboard motor, fixed keel version. Look for a boat with a roller furling headsail. This makes the boat much more easy to manage. You can reduce sail area by partially rolling up the headsail if it gets too windy. This is much better for your first boat then buying one with multiple sails that hank onto the headstay that need changed as the wind changes.

Do some more research into the boat for problem areas such as deck core rot or “Catalina smile” before buying one. Price wise, you can find them for $1000 to $10,000 depending on options and conditions.

To learn more about Catalina 25’s go here. To learn more about Catalina 27’s go here.

7 – Hobie 16/14

Hobie 16 catamaran

Hobie 16’s are the most popular beach catamaran in the world. They are common at beach resorts all over the world. I have owned one of these before too. They are also actively raced so parts and sails are easy to get. The Hobie 14 is the slightly smaller and less popular little brother. Both are available used all over the place for cheap.

Hobies are a ton of fun to sail. You can go really fast flying a hull in one. If you get one of your first sailboat use a bit of caution on when you take it out until you get used to it. Don’t start out on a day the wind is nuking and hope it will go okay because it won’t.

These are fairly easy to rig. This is the most complex boat I would ever recommend to a beginner. The mast can be challenging to raise and lower but there are easy ways Macguyver it and make it not so bad.

They do not tack easily upwind. Like all multihulls they can get stuck in irons easily when pointed into the wind. Sometimes you have to give it a little backwind and opposite rudder to get spun through the wind. It’s easy with a little bit of practice. It won’t tack as easily as a monohull.

To learn more about Hobie cats go here.

8 – The 2 person 14 foot sloop rigged sailing dinghy

2 person sailing dinghies

There are tons of this type of boat available used everywhere. There isn’t any single one that is widespread around the US to mention a particular design. There are tons of 420’s and Flying Juniors, Capri 14’s, JY15’s, Islander 14’s, etc… out there. They are all meant for 2 people. They all have a sloop rig with main and jib and a retractable centerboard. They all aren’t that hard to rig. They all can be trailered behind any car.

They can be sailed by one person in light winds or 2 people in almost any wind condition. They can be self rescued by 2 people after a capsize without help. Keep this in mind if you think about sailing it alone on a windy day.

As mentioned earlier in the article. The thing to watch out for with this type of boat is making sure all the parts are there. Make sure it is in sailing condition before you buy it. If something is broken make sure you can replace it before buying it.

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small keel sailboats

Small Keel Sailboat Boats for sale

1984 Merit 22 sailboat

1984 Merit 22 sailboat

Fort Worth, Texas

Model Merit 22 Lift Keel

Category Racer Boats

Length 22.0

Posted Over 1 Month

Great little daysailer or weekend racer for the low budget racer. Great set of sails, one main sail, one mylar racing sail and a small jib. Interior has full set of fair cushions, knot meter, compass and porta potty. Comes with a great single axle trailer with new tires and wheels. Also comes with a 5 HP Mercury engine and external fuel tank.

1979 Lancer Sailboat 25ft large keel  *Masthead Rigged*

1979 Lancer Sailboat 25ft large keel *Masthead Rigged*

Cumming, Georgia

Make Lancer

25ft Lancer almost a full keel (black below waterline with red lines above)"sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=6127" (in sailboatdata it shows fractional rig but my boat is masthead rigged) Very sturdy boat with dual axle trailer 9.9 Sailmaster outboard - mn: J10SELCDB ( not running needs head rebuild low compression 50/60) *just re-greased bearings and added bearing buddies to dual axle trailer.Boat has several new items on it (just to name a few) - New wiring, DC panel and two batteries with solar charger (marine wiring and heat sealed connections) (panel relocated to above waist at eye level) - New Marine VHF radio and antenna (mast antenna not installed yet) (Standard Horizon GX1300B) - New JVC marine stereo (KMR355U) - New sink pump - Mark 6 V PUMP, Galley self priming hand pump "WHALE" - New bilge pump 750 plus a manual bilge pump (not installed yet) The boat is currently on the hard with some repair work/cleaning being done to it. I am hoping to have it finished as time/money is available. It has a small leak around both of the cockpit drains at the water line (port and starboard). Standing rig is sturdy though decent ware in spots. Running rig is OK as well. From the cockpit to starboard going forward you have a birth /w storage under , DC panel at eye level, storage shelving, sink and under sink storage, VHF and Stereo at eye level then dinette table that makes into a double birth (house battery under seat). Continue forward you have bulkhead with speaker mounted, sail storage and porta potty with additional anchor stowage in the bow point.From cockpit to port side going forward you have another single birth /w storage under, shelving and cooking area with more storage at knee. Another settee that converts to double birth /w storage under, bulk head with speaker mounted then same as starboard with sail storage and cabinet in the v area.Cockpit has lazarette to transom with motor mounted. Sails include main, jib, genoa, storm head sail and one other head sail. Strong deck with no leaks. Has anchor locker with anchor and 75ft rope with chain. It has standing room you can walk in this boat! Sleeps 4-5. Lots of other items comes with the boat. I am mainly having problems getting the time for this boat as I purchased it to sail but ended up doing more work on it than sailing. It is a fine boat though needs attention. It is not ready to go sailing again just yet but very close. Also, the cockpit is in need of a little work for the storage places above the seats. They need to be reinstalled. One new storage box purchased to be installed. The cockpit is pretty large for this boat and the companionway is extra wide.The inside flooring (carpet) was pulled out as it was no good and the plan was to repaint the flooring and resurface the teak part. I know it will look very nice with this little bit of work. Let me know if your interested and I will be happy to talk more about it.*note: I reserve the right to withdraw this listing for any reason. listed price is for current state. As-is. Once repair for cockpit drains completed the listing price will increase. For those of you who are interested ...this price was adjusted to include the work involved in getting it back on the water(leak repaired) and age of vessel. In this NADA value no extra options were chosen at all.ValuesPrint Suggested List – We have included manufacturer's suggested retail pricing (MSRP) to assist in the financing, insuring and appraising of vessels. The MSRP is the manufacturer's and/or distributor's highest suggested retail price in the U.S.A. when the unit was new. The MSRP is furnished by the manufacturer and/or distributor and are assumed to be correct. Unless indicated, the MSRP does not include destination charges, dealer set-up, state or local taxes, license tags or insurance." style="margin: 0px; padding: 5px 10px 0px 5px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(41, 78, 146); font-style: inherit; text-align: right;">Suggested List PriceLow Retail Value — A low retail valued boat will show excessive wear and tear either cosmetically and/or mechanically. This boat may or may not be in running order. The buyer can expect to invest in cosmetic and/or mechanical work. Low retail vessels usually are not found on a dealer's lot. Low Retail is not a trade-in value." style="margin: 0px; padding: 5px 10px 0px 5px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(41, 78, 146); font-style: inherit; text-align: right;">Low RetailAverage Retail Value — An average retail valued boat should be in good condition with no visible damage or defects. This boat will show moderate wear and tear and will be in sound running condition. The buyer may need to invest in either minor cosmetic or mechanical work." style="margin: 0px; padding: 5px 10px 0px 5px; font-size: 15px; color: rgb(41, 78, 146); font-style: inherit; text-align: right;">Average RetailBase Price$11,000$3,720$4,240Options: (add) Outboard Motor: (change) 1986 Johnson 10SELCD 2-Stroke Series (x1)$1,958$445$500Trailer: (change) 1979 Tandem 30 Feet $970$1,090TOTAL PRICE:$12,958$5,135$5,830

MacGregor 26 Swing Keel Sailboat / Trailer in Excellent Condition ready WI Sail!

MacGregor 26 Swing Keel Sailboat / Trailer in Excellent Condition ready WI Sail!

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin

Make Macgregor 26S

Model 26 Swing Keel With Trailer

Category Sailboats

Length 26.0

The MacGregor 26S MacGregor 26 Swing Keel Sailboat 1994 with Trailer in Excellent Condition ready to Sail! This is a 1994 MacGregor 26S Sailboat with trailer and 8 hp outboard motor in excellent condition. It accepts a 2 inch ball mount trailer hitch. The total trailer weight is about 2000 lbs, so pretty much any V-6 vehicle can tow this without any extra equipment. Any Minivan for example will work fine. It includes everything needed to sail. Three sails including a main, a roller furling Genoa and a drifter / spinnaker are included . This sailboat is wheel steered with binnacle mounted motor remote controls and instruments. Everything is in excellent condition and the trailer tires are brand new Goodyear Marathon trailer tires. It also has an extra motor mount for a trolling motor or small outboard secondary engine. This boat has many upgrades including wheel steering and a Rudder Craft Mac 26S HDPE High Performance Replacement Rudder as well as the stock rudder as a spare, a MMSD pump out porta toilet, a CDI roller furling Genoa and a main sail cover as well as life lines and bow and stern pulpits, a swim ladder, a solar panel and an Autohelm ST 30 Bidata to name a few. The 8 HP Tohatsu (Nissan) outboard model M8B also has electric start and an alternator. The MacGregor 26S, 1990 to 1995, replaced the dagger board with a swing centerboard (which kicks up in an accidental grounding) and made other smaller changes. Together, the 26D and 26S are often called the "classic" MacGregor 26, and sometimes the 26C. Owners of these earlier models tend to refer to them as "the real sailboats" prior to the changes coming with the MacGregor 26X. The V-berth can handle 2 people/kids and has storage underneath, the settee can accommodate another person and plenty more storage under there, in the cabin galley /kitchen area is a sink and a mirrored bulkhead with plenty of storage under the sink. Behind the ladder going into the cockpit is a queen sized, super comfortable bed which is also located right below the cockpit. This boat has a POP-UP roof over the galley area that rotates up and out of the way while boat is at anchor / berth which gives unlimited head room in the cabin. This vessel includes all tools and supplies needed for maintenance and use like a nice Windex for mast top mounting. a manual bilge pump, an anchor with rode, a new gallon of bottom paint, a new fuel tank with hose, a remote controlled stereo, cockpit cushions, a wind scoop etc. I am the third owner of this nice Mac and all paperwork including the Wisconsin Title and the original purchase contract when new are included as well as a IL trailer title from the previous owner. (Note, a few pictures are from the previous owner in IL and we do not have trailer titles in WI.) It is located in Door County, WI in the city of Egg Harbor, WI north of Green Bay at my summer cottage while I live in Milwaukee, WI. If you have any questions please do ask as all inquiries will be responded to. Thanks for your interest. Hull Type: Centerboard (Trunk) Rig Type: Fractional Sloop LOA: 25.82' / 7.87m LWL: 23.50' / 7.16m Beam: 7.82' / 2.38m Listed SA: 235 ft2 / 21.83 m2 Draft (max.) 6.33' / 1.93m Draft (min.) 1.25' / 0.38m Disp. 2850 lbs./ 1293 kgs. Ballast: 1200 lbs. / 544 kgs. SA/Disp.: 18.75 Bal./Disp.: 42.07% Disp./Len.: 98.04 Designer: Roger Macgregor Builder: Macgregor Yacht Corp. (USA) Construct.: FG Bal. type: Water First Built: 1990 Last Built: 1995 # Built: RIG DIMENSIONS KEY I: 22.00' / 6.71m J: 9.67' / 2.95m P: 25.17' / 7.67m E: 10.25' / 3.12m PY: EY: SPL: ISP: SA(Fore.): 106.37 ft2 / 9.88 m2 SA(Main): 129.00 ft2 / 11.98 m2 Total(calc.)SA: 235.37 ft2 / 21.87 m2 DL ratio: 98.04 SA/Disp: 18.78 Est. Forestay Len.: 24.03' / 7.32m Mast Height from DWL: 32.25' / 9.83m BUILDERS (past & present) More about & boats built by: Macgregor Yacht Corp DESIGNER More about & boats designed by: Roger MacGregor NOTES Dry boat weight: 1650 lbs. Centerboard weight: 50 lbs. An earlier model, called the MACGREGOR 26 D was similar but with a (vertically) lifting keel. (also with water ballast = reduced weight for trailering. Not to be adjusted while sailing). Spinnaker area: 360 sq. ft. Click Here for the Owner's Manual Click Here for Information on a Modified Macgregor 26S Click Here for More Pictures of this Vessel Happy Owner's Review: My Experience with the MacGregor 26S ("Classic") "Having owned and sailed extensively a 26S for three years, I can report that indeed it does actually sail fairly well and lives up to its reputation of being a roomy and easily trailered pocket cruiser. At the time it was the only sailboat that met my budgetary needs, had room enough for my family of three to cruise for up to a week at a time, and trailered well to let us explore waters from Maine to Key West. Yes, it's a light boat, but I had a lot of sailing experience and was cautious and never had trouble in winds to 30 knots - and I didn't try anything foolish like taking it offshore. Yes, the fiberglass was thin, but I avoided running into rocks. I took my 3-year-old out on solo daysails and have no regrets. I sold it to a family of four, their first boat, and heard from them a few years later that they'd thoroughly enjoyed tons of sailing. Thousands of other MacGregor owners have had similar experiences."

Sailboat 40'

Sailboat 40'

Key Largo, Florida

Name: Jo Mama, registered in Key Largo, FL Antique sailboat with character, custom made by Bill Healy in Miami in 1972 (Bill Healy built Te Heva, Pago Pago, and The Healy Ark too) Hull: Wood (3 layers: 1'' bars + 1/4'' plywood + 1/4'' plywood) covered with 1/4'' fiberglass Inboard Diesel Engine - Perkins 4.107, 50 HP, 4 cyl., rebuilt in 2012 Beam is 11 Draft is 3.5 Keel is fixed, long Rudder and Tiller system 80 gal. diesel fuel storage 50 gal. water tank with new freshwater pump Toilet with 25 gal. tank It is anchored in Key Largo, FL, 70 miles from Miami, and I can help you move it anywhere you want. Newly painted: In 2013, I painted and varnished the inside, the deck, and the hull; rebuilt and painted the mast. The MBM yard painted the bottom in Febr. 2013, and it's guaranteed for five years. Has one more main sail I have never used. Liveaboard for free at anchor here, 3-4 can sleep in the cabins. New fridge Sink Iceboxes Propane burners (two burners) with small oven; Grill is installed outside New freshwater pump New automated bilge pump Three 12V batteries with controller Two 12V battery chargers VHF radio with antenna Handheld GPS Many extras: - Longshaft outboard 6hp Evinrude with 6 gal. gas tank - 1000W Power inverter - 2000W Gasoline Generator - 20 W Solar panel with controller - Solar shower - Shower head with long flexible tube to connect to the water tank - Tools - Flashlights - PFDs, etc - 8' inflatable hypalon tender boat - 8' unsinkable tender boat Call Vale today, will not last: 786 521 3840 Come and see at: 102390 Overseas Hwy Key Largo 33037 (near the dock of the Nelson Gov. Center Park at MM102 ) More Pics: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/109616390613631035008/albums/5951683439500696017?authkey=CO6vm6G89PCO9AE https://plus.google.com/photos/109616390613631035008/albums/5820382765488444305?authkey=COeKgb-44KGwngE

22' Macgregor Sailboat

22' Macgregor Sailboat

Saratoga Springs, New York

Make MacGregor

Model Venture

Excellent Daysailer. I learned to sail solo on Lake George with this boat. Handles like a dream. I've slept on it a number of time. The ads will say it sleeps four. I'd say two adults and two small children. The hull has been scraped, but not painted. I kept it on the trailer when I wasn't using it. So, I didn't need to paint it. I've replaced all the wiring, the stern light, the winch strap for the trailer, and the cable for the swing keel. The cushions have all been recovered with vinyl. Last July, I had the plugs, points, head gasket replaced, and the carb rebuilt on the motor. It's old. But, if you let it warm up for a few minutes, it will run all day. Boat comes with: --main and jib sails-- like new sheets, halyards, dock and anchor lines (bought at the beginning of last season).--'67 Envinrude 9.5 hp 2 cycle motor w/ long shaft (runs well)--two 5 gal. fuel tanks--new Deep Cycle Battery--new portable head. --two life jackets--3 step hook ladder--trailer is included in sale (2" ball required)--10lb stockless anchor and 8lb mushroom anchorThe usual info:Hull: monohull w/ swing keelRig: masthead sloopLOA: 22'LWL:18'Beam: 7.33'Draft: 1' (keel up)/ 6' (keel down)Displacement 1800lbs.

O'Day 19 Sailboat

O'Day 19 Sailboat

Rathdrum, Idaho

Excellent and fast boat, beamy (8') with plenty of free-board, stable and safe in most weather/water conditions (excluding hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, etc.), ready to sail. Always stored under cover. Roomy 8 foot long cockpit can easily seat 6 adults, within overall weight limitations for the boat. 11 foot long cabin sleeps two people easily, with room for storage & supplies. Factory foam cushions in excellent condition. Great for fishing under sail or power, drafts only 1 foot with folding keel up, 4 feet with keel down. Rudder "kicks-up" for shallow water. Stainless steel outboard mount adjusts up for shallow water. 300 pounds of lead ballast from factory. All stainless rigging, together with aluminum mast and boom, in excellent condition. Halyards and lines are braided Dacron. "Indestructible" ABS folding keel with sealed lead core. 3 sails in good condition: Factory main & jib and Hood light 150% genoa (no tears or patches on any), sail bag. Light genoa doubles as a pseudo spinaker. Harken roller reefing/furling for genoa. Boom vang for performance tuning the main sail. All halyards and lines are routed to the cockpit for easy single-handed access and control. Stainless steel Bow pulpit and rear safety rails, gated (both sides) plastic coated stainless steel life lines supported by stainless stanchions. Andersen stainless steel #6 standard winches. Updated/extended jib/genoa tracks with easily adjustable/locking travelers, ball bearing pulleys and quick release cleats. Removable bow, side and stern night lights and waterproof sockets. Subdued red LED night lighting in cockpit. 12V accessory outlets. Lighted and ventilated cabin sleeps two comfortably, cushions in good condition, sitting headroom. 2 rod holders with rubber covers. Garmin speed indicator/depth gage/fish finder mounted in bulkhead. Ritchie lighted compass mounted in bulkhead. Electric bilge pump with hose, for unlikely emergencies. Fused switch block inside cabin for all electronics. Garelick adjustable stainless steel outboard motor mount on transom. Folding stainless steel swim ladder on transom. Gin pole for raising/lowering mast. Fresh bottom paint. Includes galvanized EZ Loader trailer with newer sun resistant bottom rollers, updated wiring, elevated LED tail lights on roller guide-ons, elevated LED clearance lights on fixed PVC guide posts, LED rear center lights, new forward manual winch, new trailer jack, good tires on galvanized rims and mounted full size spare with cable lock, outboard bracket (reduces stress on transom while towing), bearing buddies, new 2" ball hitch with lock. Also available, for an additional $995, an easy starting, near new, Tohatsu 6hp 4 stroke outboard motor with extra long shaft, factory Installed 12V 60W 5A Alternator to recharge battery, anti-cavitation plate, and less than 20 hours of running time. Also included, if you purchase the outboard, is a 3 gallon fuel tank that fits inside of a storage bin in the cockpit and the hose that connects the fuel tank to the engine. Tohatsu manufactures Nissan and Mercury small outboards and is an excellent value. Typical best discount price for this Tohatsu engine, factory new, is over $1500. This one is barely broken in and runs great.The outboard is not for sale separately unless it is not wanted by whoever purchases the boat. However if you are interested in the outboard alone I will take your name and contact info, and let you know if and when it becomes available. To arrange purchase of the outboard motor, contact me and I will create a "buy-it-now" ad so that you can purchase it through ebay and we can play by their rules. That will also make you eligible for any applicable coverage under their buyer protection plan.Cash payment is fine for local pickup. Do not mail cash!!! For mailed payments, I prefer a US Postal Service Money Order. Although the shipping information for this ad stipulates "local pickup only", I am willing to assist in hitching up the boat if you are able to arrange for transport through Uship.com. I have no way of loading the boat and/or trailer onto a truck bed for shipping. The transporter will need to contact me a day in advance to arrange a time. Any and all shipping/transport costs will be the responsibility of the buyer. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

1973 Aquarius Aquarius Sailboat

1973 Aquarius Aquarius Sailboat

Longbranch, Washington

Private Seller (253) 848-0748 Photos Photo 1 Close Request Information * Name First Name * Email Telephone (optional) Best Time to Contact Anytime Morning Mid-day Evening Question/Comments (optional) Shop Safely: Protect Your Money. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. Contact Seller 1973 Aquarius Aquarius Sailboat,Four sails, 5 hp Honda o/b, paddle, trailer, port-a-potty, newer cushions, life preservers(2), small dinette area in the cabin, cabin can sleep up to four people, and swing keel boat (can move where-ever).The four sales are: main sail, genoa jib, working jib(100%) and a storm jib(40%).Call Jack for more details. $4500, 2538480748 Be sure: Get a boat history report|Finance this boat|Get an insurance quote|

1974 Westerly Centaur 26' Sailboat

1974 Westerly Centaur 26' Sailboat

South Haven, Michigan

Make Westerly

Model Centaur

///trailer not included/// Titled and registered, currently sailed, beautifully maintained, and in the water. Slip is paid through October 15th, 2015, including electric, water, trash, bicycles, showers, free coffee, grills, etc. A beautiful classic sailboat, Serenity, is fully restored. This boat is ready to sail! Located in beautiful, South Haven, MI. Built in England, the Centaur is a real masterpiece and functional boat. All the teak and wood has been refinished and the brass meticulously polished. This boat is a real joy to sail and the powerful diesel (classic Volvo Penta MD 2B)is extremely reliable and comforting on the big lake. This boat is VERY roomy. It has 6' headroom in the cabin and the table coverts to a double bed. All New 2015: Bluewater cruising main sail with 2 reef points, 1 full batten, all possible bells and whistles Bluewater cruising Headsail 135% w/UV cover, luff tape, mainsail cover Cabin cushion covers (marine outdoor fabric) topside paint non slip coating cabin paint/varnish halyards & rigging as needed Keel's refinished, primed, and painted with 3 coats anti-fouling paint bottom painted with 2 coats anti-fouling paint Deck hardware removed and re-bedded (including windows) Keels re-bedded Rudder shaft bearing removed and re-bedded Drive shaft bearing removed and re-bedded VERY strong diesel engine serviced & injectors tested Fuel tank drained, cleaned, and refilled (very clean fuel!!) Interior painted Lifeline netting for small children/pets new fresh-water engine intake screen new water pump on engine new thermostat Equipment: Asymmetrical Spinnaker Roller Furling Headsail Loose-foot mainsail (the original roller furling boom is still operable) Composting Head (Johnson-type hand-pump head is out of the boat) Dockside Freshwater Filter System Foot Pump 17 gallon water tank Two Solar Panels Two NEW (2015) Marine Batteries All new wiring as needed. offshore life jackets radar deflector flare guns first aid kits fire extinguishers emergency hole plug kit 2 harnesses HUGE V-berth (I'm 6'4" and I sleep in it just fine!) Table legs sandblasted and powdercoated Charcoal cabin heater (burns natural lump charcoal, not the bricks)found at lumber stores. propane cook top electric oven 3 new solar vent/lights 2 anchors Ships clock, barometer, thermometer, oil lamp, compass V-berth dresser Cockpit cushions lifesling MOB system dock power cord bumpers, dock lines, etc. Many Other Details Have all manuals and historical documents

West Wight Potter 19' Sailboat

West Wight Potter 19' Sailboat

New Port Richey, Florida

Make West Wight (International Marine)

Model Potter

Category Daysailer Sailboats

Length 19.0

This is a sturdy vessel. Orginally designed to sail the English Channel, and now produced in California you don't find these making their way to the east coast often. Boat includes trailer and is able to put in the water and sailing in less than an hour. The boat shell is a 98,. but still in great shape. Most of the items on the boat have been upgraded recently. Motor is 2 years old and has less than 50 hours on it, still in mint condition. The entire electrical system was redone last year. All lights inside and out work and were replaced at the time. Battery charger was also put in and is new. Also recently added a AUTO PILOT! Its awesome, you can just set the autopilot with the garmin GPS (also included) and lay back and sail or motor. We loved taking the boat out for a day, and even taking it to the keys and sleeping on it. Sleeps 2 comfortably, and 4 for a night or two. Hate selling it, but we bought a small business and we can't take it out like we used to. It's currently in dry storage, where it lives whenever its not sailing. No salt water damage. Great thing about this boat is its small enough to trailer, (has a retraceable keel that makes beaching possible) big enough to sleep on, easy enough for a beginner, yet strong enough for any sea's. Full foam hull so the boat is unsinkable. After purchase, if needed, I'm willing to take the new owner out to show him/her how the boat works.



Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

I'm selling my 1988 Catalina Capri 14.2. It has very good sails and all running and standing rigging is in the great shape. It includes 3 sails - main, jib, and genoa. The trailer is in great shape as well, it has a mast crutch built in for easy trailering, and it has new tires. This is an extremely popular, fun, and diverse boat. It is great boat to learn on as well as to have fun sailing. There are scores of information online about this boat. One person can easily rig and launch the boat in 15 minutes, the mast comes up and down very easily. The centerboard comes up when in shallow water. The draft is only 4 inches with the keel up so it will go thru very shallow areas without a fear of grounding. When the centerboard is down the draft is 3.5ft for great stability and pointing ability. It has a kick up rudder, and the tiller has an extension for healing and hiking. It has a positive flotation and it will not sink. It will stay on top of the waves even in the choppy water. It goes very good in light breeze with bigger genoa sail and it also has a jib for a moderate winds. The boat is still in production and it is very easy to obtain all the original parts from the manufacturer website. It is very easy to trailer even with a small car.

1985 Catalina CAPRI 22 foot Sailboat

1985 Catalina CAPRI 22 foot Sailboat

Titusville, Florida

Make Catalina

Model Capri 22

This beautiful CATALINA CAPRI 22 foot sailboat is located at a marina in Titusville, Florida. It is sail ready and comes with a 2005 Mercury 4 Hp, 4 Stroke Outboard engine with only 9 hours on the motor. The motor was last started 2 months ago. This vessel sleeps 6 people and has racing rigging. It comes with a mast, boom, spinnaker pole with a brand new "hank on" jib and storm jib. Further sails include Capri 22 Genoa and Capri 22 Main sail along with a spinnaker sail with pole, all in excellent condition. However, the roller furler at the bow is not operating properly at this time and appears to be jammed or stuck, but is presently installed on the boat. There is a small crack on one of the side cabin windows but no leakage. The rudder has some wear on the bottom but is fully functional. The boat comes with a fixed keel with a 4 ft. draft. There are no soft spots or leaks on the boat and the hull is in excellent shape with no bottom painting needed at this time. There is also an EZ Mast Erection System to raise the mast, numerous lines, brand new porta - potti, flares, anchor, life jackets, 50 amp Minn Kota Electric Trolling Motor(not working-needs repair). The boat also comes with an outboard support raising platform for the engine, which works when the engine is in the water, but has trouble in raising the engine out of the water and has some wear on it. A swimming ladder is also attached to the stern of the boat. Overall the boat is in good to excellent condition and is presently in the water with no trailer available. One forward cleat is loose but is still functional. Please keep in mind that my sailing experience is limited and although I have sailed the boat with the jib, I have not raised or sailed the vessel with either the Genoa, Main or Spinnaker sails, but with my limited knowledge all sails appear to be in "excellent condition". The boat presently needs a good cleaning on the interior of the cabin. The entire boat is being sold in "as is" and "where is condition" to include the outboard motor with no guarantee or warranty to be implied. Also included are manuals for the boat and engine. This is a SUPER BARGAIN for the sailing enthusiast! All purchasing fees are to be paid thru Paypal and the boat to be picked up within one week of the purchase. The marina here has boat slips available and allows live-aboards at a reasonable price, along with power, water and free computer connection etc. Seller has good, clear title for this great boat!

1980 Com-Pac 23 sailboat with trailer

1980 Com-Pac 23 sailboat with trailer

Hillsboro, Oregon

Make Com-Pac

Category Cruiser Motorcycles

Length 23.0

Compac 23 sailboat w/ 2 axle trailer, motor and custom interior. The Com-Pac 23 is a highly respected trailer-able, ramp- launch-able pocket cruiser. Sleeps 4 adults, has accomodations for extended cruising vacations, and the flexibility of being trailered home afterwards. Small galley with pump water, small head with porta-potti. Features a NACA foil shaped shoal draft keel and outboard rudder, she handles rough seas with grace and style. 6 opening bronze ports and hand built yacht-like interior make this boat a proper mini- yacht. I've owned this one for 8 years, and it features a new interior: teak, mahogany and maple over 3/4" closed cell foam insulation. New wiring, breaker panel, Hummingbird GPS/ chart plotter/ sonar, Cd/ radio, VHF, LED/ fluorescent lighting. Electric start Nissan 9.9 hp OB, recently serviced impeller, tune-up. Tabernacle mast w/ Stainless Steel strut system, allows easy mast stepping even in windy conditions. There is still some detail work going on (interior trim mostly), but it's ready to sail and trailer most anywhere. CDI flexible furler with recent 120% jib sail. Main sail in useable shape; not overly stretched, torn or dirty. Heavy duty twin axle trailer w/ surge brakes, good tires and new bunks. New equalizer hitch. Recent paint, wiring, brake hydraulics. Trailered across the country with no issues. This is a good pocket cruiser type sailboat, with good stability, speed and reasonable comfort. Limited headroom (under 5'), but lengthy, comfortable berths (7'). I've sailed it under stressful conditions (20+ knots, rough seas), and made it home smiling. I can't think of a more enjoyable trailerable (and I've owned 6); stability, comfort, speed and portability are all well balanced and deliberate. Possible trade considered. Please call with questions. Patrick: 503-702-7104

25' 1985 Mac Gregor 25 Sailboat

25' 1985 Mac Gregor 25 Sailboat

Oakland, California

For more details visit: http://www.BoatsFSBO.com/97214 Please call boat owner Kenny at 510-338-0355or303-818-1328. This is a 1985 25 ft MacGregor swing-keel sailboat with trailer. This boat is in overall good and sailable condition. It is currently out of the water and on the trailer. The boat has a lot of new parts and was recently painted and everything works good. It comes with mainsail, jib and genoa which are all decent but the mainsail could use a sew job on one corner. There is a small private head (toilet) and kitchenette with sink. The mast lays down and the keel swings up for trailering and the boat is easy to get on an off the trailer and fairly light at about 2,500 lbs so can be towed with smaller vehicles. This is a great boat for the bay or lake sailing and a great boat for learning on! As always with a vehicle this age, it may need some additional work and TLC! Will deliver within 60 miles for FREE!! • Almost new Nissan 6 hp outboard motor• New radio• New tiller• The bow, mast and stern lights are all in very good condition and working• Replaced rear stay and side shrouds a few years back.• Recently had the bottom and keel painted and the keel hardware replaced• Replaced the keel cable and associated hardware a few years ago• All cushions are in decent shape• Newish battery (1 year)• Internal lights• Working pump• Newish wind indicator• Trailer is in decent condition with newish tires and spare and new waterproof lights. There is some rust on the trailer. You can see more about Macgregor boats here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGregor_Yacht_Corporation

Catalina 30 Sailboat for sale or live aboard

Catalina 30 Sailboat for sale or live aboard

Cowichan Bay, British Columbia

Model Catalina 30

Category Sloop Sailboats

Length 30.0

1980 Catalina 30 Sailboat with fixed fin keel in good condition with 18 horsepower Sole Diesel engine, fairly new Main sail except for small tear that's been professionally patched. Extra Main sail, new rigging/conversion of the furling. Beautiful customized Pelican wood doors at cockpit entry.Magic Chef 3 burner propane stove and oven. Canvass dodger on steel frames at the companionway. Navigation equipment includes Horizon VHF marine radio, like new new and never used Standard Horizon CPF 300iColor GPS Chart Plotters/Fish Finder, Saturn 4" compass, and Raymarine Autohelm 3000 Autopilot, and Many more extras. For an additional $800.00 I have a rebuilt with new cable/chain rigging, shackle mooring buoy for sale in Cowichan Bay for boat. Owner lives out of country and has priced the boat for a quick sale. Please call Mike anytime at 951-269-9373



This beautiful CATALINA CAPRI 22 foot sailboat is located at a marina in Titusville, Florida. It is sail ready and comes with a 2005 Mercury 4 Hp, 4 Stroke Outboard engine with only 9 hours on the motor. The motor was last started 2 months ago. This vessel sleeps 6 people and has racing rigging. It comes with a mast, boom, spinnaker pole with a brand new "hank on" jib and storm jib. Further sails include Capri 22 Genoa and Capri 22 Main sail along with a spinnaker sail with pole, all in excellent condition. However, the roller furler at the bow is not operating properly at this time and appears to be jammed or stuck, but is presently installed on the boat. There is a small crack on one of the side cabin windows but no leakage. The rudder has some wear on the bottom but is fully functional. Railing and stanchions are all solid.The boat comes with a fixed keel with a 4 ft. draft. The forward hatch has never been opened by me for water tight, containment purposes, so I am not sure how functional it is. There are no soft spots or leaks on the boat and the hull is in excellent shape with no bottom painting needed at this time. There is also an EZ Mast Erection System to raise the mast, numerous lines, brand new porta - potti, anchor, life jackets, 50 amp Minn Kota Electric Trolling Motor(not working-needs repair). A flush mounted outside compass was removed by the previous owner. The boat also comes with an outboard support raising platform for the 4 HP engine, which works when the engine is in the water, but has trouble in raising the engine out of the water and has some wear on it. However a smaller, lighter engine(2 to 3 HP) seems to work just fine and raises and lowers this lighter engine into the water with ease. A swimming ladder is also attached to the stern of the boat. Overall the boat is in good to excellent condition and is presently in the water with no trailer available. One forward cleat is loose but is still functional. Please keep in mind that my sailing experience is limited and although I have sailed the boat with the jib, I have not raised or sailed the vessel with either the Genoa, Main or Spinnaker sails because of time constraints, but with my limited knowledge all sails appear to be in "excellent condition". The boat presently needs a good cleaning on the interior of the cabin. The entire boat is being sold in "as is" and "where is condition" to include the outboard motor with no guarantee or warranty to be implied. Also included are manuals for the boat and engine. This is a SUPER BARGAIN for the sailing enthusiast! The deposit must be paid thru Paypal with the balance of the purchase price to be paid by cash within one week of purchase and the boat to be picked up within one week of the purchase date. As a SUPER BONUS, the Seller will also add two good to excellent, high quality DOYLE Sails that "appear to be" main sails for an estimated 25 foot sailboat; the value is estimated at $1,000.00 for these 2 used sails. The marina here has boat slips available and allows live-aboards at a reasonable price, along with power, water and free computer connection etc. Seller has good, clear title for this great boat and SUPER PURCHASE!

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Sailboat Keel Types: Illustrated Guide (Bilge, Fin, Full)

The keel type is one of the most important features of your boat. But the different designs can be confusing, so I've set out to create a very clear guide that will help you understand sailboat keels once and for all.

What are the most common sailboat keel types? The most common sailboat keel types are full-length keels, fin keels, bulb keels, wing keels, bilge keels, and lifting keels. Full keels are popular among cruisers, while fin keels are generally used for racing. Bilge keels and lifting keels are typically used in tidal waters, on small fishing boats for example.

In this article, we'll explore the most common keel types together. I'll use diagrams to really hit home the differences of all these keel types, and we'll discuss what keel types are best for liveaboard, ocean cruising, and lake weekend trips. After reading this article, you'll know what to choose - and why.

small keel sailboats

Sailboat Keels Explained

On this page:, overview of sailboat keel types, keel types: fundamentals, modified full keel, centerboard.

If you just want a quick overview, here's a list with the most common keel types and a short description. More detail will follow below.

The most common keel types

  • Full keels run from front to aft and are the most stable keel type, making them the most popular cruising keel.
  • Fin keels offer the best performance but are less comfortable. This makes them popular for racing. Fin keels are bolted on to the hull and generally run deep and thin.
  • Bulb and wing keels are both variants on the fin keel.
  • Bulb keels carry additional ballast in the tip, making them more stable.
  • Wing keels have two tips at the end of the keel, which reduces crossflow, improving directional stability.
  • Bilge keels are double fin or double full kees, which allows the boat to be beached, making them the most popular keel for tidal waters.
  • Lifting keels are moveable keels that can be lowered and raised, allowing the boat to enter shallow waters as well.
  • Centerboard keels are a pivoting lifting keel, allowing to sail both coastal and inland waters.
  • Leeboards are fins on the sides of flat-bottomed hulls boats, making a keel unnecessary.

Properties of each keel type

small keel sailboats

What does a keel do?

What does the keel do? A keel is a vertical blade running down from the hull. It is weighted and acts as a ballast, countering the boat's tendency to heel and preventing it from tipping over. The wetted surface under the waterline reduces slippage to leeward by creating a track, which counters the sideway force of the wind on the sails.

small keel sailboats

The reason sailboats don't tip over is that the weight of the keel counters the buoyancy of the hull, which means it will pull the boat downward. This downward force reduces heel and prevents the boat from rolling.

A canoe doesn't have a keel. Try stepping into that: it will want to roll.

It counters the horizontal force the wind puts on the sails. Whenever the force on the sails increases, the resistance of the water on the keel increases proportionally.

The heavier the keel, the less heel you'll get.

A keel reduces slippage to leeward. Slippage is simply the amount you fall off course because of the direction of the wind and current. Leeward is the side of the boat behind the wind.

So if you don't have a keel, you will fall off course quite a lot because the wind will push you over the water surface.

You will also heel quite a lot since there is nothing beneath the water surface to counter the force of the wind high up in your sails.

A keel fixes both of these issues and makes sailboats one of the most reliable boats in heavy winds and storms.

You can read on about how keels work here.

Keels can be classified by multiple dimensions. You can look at them from the side or the front. You can also classify them based on properties.

Before I dive into each keel type in-depth and show examples, let's make sure we have the same starting point.

There are essentially two sorts of keels:

Fixed keels

Movable keels.

small keel sailboats

Fixed keels are keels that are integrated into the hull or bolted on. They can't be moved or lifted.

When looking at fixed keels, you can divide them up further based on the side view. There are three main categories:

Bilge keels

Full keels are more comfortable, provide better stability and protection, but are also slower than fin keels.

Fin keels are less comfortable, provide less stability, are more vulnerable, but they're also a lot faster than full keels.

Bilge keels are double keels: one on each side of the hull. This allows them to be beached, which comes in handy in tidal waters. They are generally a lot slower and less maneuverable compared to fin keels.

Movable keels can be lifted from the water, creating a shoal (shallow) draft, allowing the boat to enter both shallow waters and coastal waters. This makes it a very versatile keel type. There are two main designs:

Lifting keels

Lifting keels can be lowered and raised through a slit in the hull. Examples of lifting keels are the daggerboard and centerboard.

Leeboards are wooden swords attached to the side of the hull and prevent slippage to leeward, but they don't stabilize the boat, nor counter heel by adding ballast.

small keel sailboats

With fin keels, there are different tip designs available. The most common two tip designs are:

These are both variants of the fin keel. Generally, these keel designs are mentioned in one breath with full keels and fin keels, creating confusion on what kind of keel they are. But it's important to understand that they are a sub-category of fin keels.

small keel sailboats

Rudder design

As with the tip of the fin, there are different rudder designs that may apply to both fin and full keels. The two most common rudder designs are:

Skeg rudder

Spade rudder.

A skeg is a structural part of the keel in front of the rudder that protects the rudder. The keel encompasses the rudder, preventing any rogue ropes, weeds, or rocks from damaging the rudder.

small keel sailboats

A spade rudder is an unprotected rudder: it doesn't have any structural protection from the keel design. It is simply attached to the hull. This design is very common.

Alright, we understand the big picture. Let's dive into more detail for each keel type and discuss the pros and cons.

Fixed keel Good for cruising and liveaboards Comfortable

small keel sailboats

What is a full keel? A full keel runs from front to aft for at least 50% of the hull and is fully integrated into the hull. It has the largest wetted surface of any keel type, and it is also the heaviest. This results in directional stability and reduced heeling, providing the most comfortable ride, but also the slowest.

The wetted surface simply means the amount of water contact area. With such a large wetted surface, it decreases slippage to leeward the most of all keel types, while it counters heeling the most as well.

The full keel is the most comfortable and stable keel type available. However, comfort comes at a price. It delivers the worst performance due to this large wetted area. It is the slowest of the keel types, and it has the worst windward performance.

This makes full keels particularly great for longtime cruisers or liveaboards who prefer comfort over speed, but less ideal for daysailers who need to navigate in and out of slips regularly.

Since it runs for at least 50% of the hull, it doesn't need to run as deep as a fin keel, resulting in a more shoal draft.

Heavier keels result in increased displacement, so a full keel boat will need a larger sail area to compensate for its weight.

For a more detailed discussion on full keel advantages, I recommend reading William's excellent article 5 Surprising Advantages of a Full Keel Sailboat here.

Example sailboats with a full keel:

  • Nicholson 22
  • Island Packet 380
  • Beneteau Oceanis 411 Clipper
  • Beneteau First 50
  • Jeanneau Sun Shine 38
  • Dufour 455 Grand Large

There are a lot of great cruising boats with full keel designs , some of them considered classics.

Full Keel with skeg rudder

Full keels with a skeg rudder design have a protected rudder, thanks to putting a structural part of the keel directly in front of the rudder. This helps with fending off any hazards to the rudder, like floating pieces of rope, rocks, or garbage, and protects it in case of running aground. The skeg design ensures the rudder is nearly impossible to break off.

Fixed keel Good for cruising and liveaboards Faster than a regular full keel

small keel sailboats

What is a modified full keel? A modified full keel is a full keel with a cutout at the front, reducing the wetted surface slightly, which increases performance without sacrificing too much comfort and stability. After the full keel, it has the best directional stability and the least amount of heel.

The modified full keel is popular among (bluewater) cruisers, thanks to its increased handling and performance. Most modified full keels have a skeg rudder, ensuring it is well-protected.

The slightly reduced weight and wetted surface improve windward performance quite a lot, but it is still one of the most stable keel designs out there.

Example sailboats with a modified full keel:

  • Hallberg-Rassy HR 40
  • Dufour Arpege 30
  • Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 281
  • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37.2
Fixed keel Good for racing Fast

small keel sailboats

What is a fin keel? A fin keel is a long, weighted blade attached to the bottom of the hull. It is lighter, faster, and more maneuverable than a full keel, but also more vulnerable. The increased distance between ballast and sails provides a lever, reducing the need for a large wetted surface or additional ballast.

Fin keels are generally bolted onto the hull and run deeper and thinner than a full keel. They are also lighter. This helps increasing performance (a lot), making fin keels a lot faster in all situations.

There are some major disadvantages to fin keels, however. Fin keels are a lot less comfortable than full keels and allow for more heel and a less solid track, so less directional stability. Fin keels are also a lot more vulnerable than full keels. They can break off when running aground, or get damaged.

They are very popular among racers and perform better when maneuvering in tight spots, like getting in and out of slips.

Example sailboats with a fin keel:

  • Catalina 30
  • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 36.2

Fin keel with skeg rudder

Fin keels with a skeg rudder use a small structural part in front of the rudder to protect it. This design is mostly integrated into the hull, making it less vulnerable, and a great compromise between speed and safety.

Fin keel with spade rudder

Fin keels with a spade rudder have a completely exposed rudder, and typically a fin that is simply bolted on. The keel isn't integrated into the hull, making it more vulnerable and less comfortable.

small keel sailboats

Fin keel variant Good for cruising Less crossflow

small keel sailboats

What is a wing keel? A wing keel is a fin keel with a horizontal foil at the tip, which is wing-shaped and generally weighted. Its shape reduces crossflow, improving directional stability, and its ballast decreases heel, resulting in a more comfortable ride. The addition of a wingtip allows for a shorter fin, reducing draft.

Wing keels are good for cruising since this design improves directional stability compared to a regular fin keel or a bulb keel.

We'll discuss the wing keel's advantages and disadvantages in more detail in this article.

Fin keel variant Good for cruising Stability

small keel sailboats

What is a bulb keel? A bulb keel is a high-aspect-ratio fin keel with additional ballast at the end, which generally has a bulb or teardrop shape. This ballast improves stability and utilizes the distance between force and counterforce as a lever. This design reduces the need for a deep fin, resulting in a shoal draft.

By placing the weight at the largest possible distance from the force on the sails, you need relatively little extra weight for the same reduction in heel, making bulb keels very effective for cruising.

This design reduces the wetted area while increasing the weight of the keel just slightly, which increases sailing comfort big time.

Example sailboats with a bulb keel:

  • Bavaria B/One
  • Beneteau First 24
Fixed keel Good for racing Can be beached

small keel sailboats

What is a bilge keel? A bilge keel is a twin keel which uses double fins, allowing the boat to be beached and rest on its keel upright. Bilge keels have double the wetted surface, which increases comfort and directional stability while decreasing heel. Modern bilge keels often provide decent windward performance, thanks to better design.

The bilge keel does sacrifice speed compared to the fin keel but doesn't necessarily offer worse performance overall. Older designs performed considerably worse than other keels and were especially slow.

small keel sailboats

Bilge keels have some major advantages over full keels and fin keels. The most important is that the boat can be beached, making it a popular design in tidal waters. Bilge keels are especially common along the British coastline, where fishermen keep their boats in tidal harbors.

Another major advantage is that the boat can be stored resting on its keels, making dry storage and maintenance a lot easier.

Of course, there are many more pros and cons to the bilge keel , which we go into here.

Example sailboats with a bilge keel:

  • Dufour Dynamique 62
  • Hunter Duette
  • Patagonia Patago 39
  • Macwester 27
Lifting keel Good for daysailers Versatile

small keel sailboats

What is a centerboard? A centerboard is a type of retractable keel that rests on a hinge and can be lowered through a slot in the hull. It folds out like a pocket knife and allows you to increase or reduce the draft of the boat. Centerboards are mostly used on small fishing boats.

The centerboard is a very versatile keel type, allowing you to have both a very shoal draft for inland waters, as well as steadying the boat and reducing heel for larger bodies of water, or even oceans.

I've sailed a Cornish Crabber with a centerboard for a week, and while we stayed inland, having the option to increase the keel depth really came in handy when crossing the IJsselmeer (a former sea in The Netherlands).

There's more to the center

Olaf Roethele


My name is Olaf and I am the owner of a Cornish Crabber 17 Adventure boat.

I would like to ask you if you can imagine to install on this boat a Torqeedo 2.0 Pod motor? Therefore i guess a modification of the keel/skeg is necessary ?!

Best regards from Uruguay,

You completely missed the hybrid planing/water-ballast keel of the Macgregor range

Thanks a lot for this explanation

Roger Bannon

Very well written article which provides an excellent guide for us small wooden boat builders. Thanks.

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